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On the outbreak of the present war in South 
Africa, I was led, Hke many other Britons, no doubt, 
to inquire what the character of British rule in that 
region had been from the beginning. The right which 
Briton or Boer may claim to control the future of 
South Africa must certainly depend, in the conflicting 
circumstances of the case, on the work he has done in 
the past and the title it has earned for him to continue 
that work in the future. In the present contest no 
lesser issue than the destinies of all South Africa and 
the kind of civilisation under which its mixed popu- 
lation, Dutch, British, and coloured, are to live is 
involved. No superficial question of the rights of a 
suzerain or the name of a republic must be allowed 
to disguise the real nature of the struggle, or excuse 
any one from examining the record of both parties 
before deciding on what is only the latest phase 
of a conflict that is more than a hundred years old. 

It was with the view of getting some light on this 
question that I turned to what is generally recognised 
as the standard history of South Africa, a work in 
five volumes by George M. Theal, of the Cape 


Colonial Civil Service. That is his large work on 
the subject, but he has also published some minor 
works, amongst which are a short popular history of 
South Africa, published in 1894, in the Story of the 
A^ations series, and a history written in Dutch, 
Gest:/nede7tis van Zuid-Africa, which with the excep- 
tion of some chapters of special interest to the Dutch, 
is generally, word for word, the same as the volume 
in his Story of the Nations series. Like many of my 
countrymen, I suppose, I had always been taught to 
believe, and from what I had myself seen and exam- 
ined, I was ready to believe, that British rule, while 
it had not of course been exempt from errors, had 
been in the main distinguished by its fairness and 
justice, and by liberal methods of administration 
meant to further the moral and economic develop- 
ment of the countries under that rule. The reader 
of Dr. Theal's works will hear little in support of such 
ideas. From his three histories I received only a 
painful impression of misrule and incapacity, and even 
of arrogance and tyranny on the part of the British 
Government ; it was nothing apparently but meddling 
and muddling, deliberate neglect of the feelings of 
the " man of the spot " (who of course is always wise 
and right), and no single thread of moral wisdom or 
political forecast running through it all, that the 
historian at least had any eyes for. 

It happened, however, that Dr. Theal had been good 
enough to send to the library of the University on 
whose staff I have the honour to be, a set of the 
records of Cape Colony, as far as they have yet been 


published, consisting of a mass of original documents, 
letters private and official, reports, investigations, 
census returns and such like, from which, with the 
help of other contemporary evidence such as may 
be had in the literature of that time, one may be 
able to form an independent judgment on the early 
period at least of British rule in South Africa. After 
a study of those materials I am convinced that Dr. 
Theal is by no means the safest of guides in this part 
of the Empire's history ; it even seems to me that he 
has laboured to darken the British side of it ; he has 
passed lightly or in silence over the characteristic 
merits of British rule, especially when tried by the 
standards of the times of which he is speaking ; he 
has misunderstood or misrepresented its highest tra- 
ditions, he has unfairly emphasised its defects and 
made as little as possible even of the economic and 
industrial advantages which it undoubtedly conferred 
on South Africa. And he has done this for the sake 
of setting the history of a special class of Boers in the 
best light, and of building up traditions of Boer his- 
tory, which are certainly at variance both with these 
records and a common-sense analysis of the facts. 
The problem of ruling and developing South Africa 
has had various phases, all of them difficult enough, 
but Dr. Theal has saved himself all trouble of seeking 
for the moral or economic principles involved in it by 
the easy application of one principle, namely, that 
the Briton was always in the wrong and the Boer 
always in the right. I have really been unable to 
discover any other organising principle in his work. 


I may add that it did not lessen my suspicion of 
the spirit that inspired Dr. Theal's histories when I 
learned from the preface to his history, written in the 
Dutch language, that his collaborator in these his- 
torical researches for a number of years had been 
Mr. F, W. Reitz, the present secretary of the Trans- 
vaal, then President of the Orange Free State. I am 
inclined to doubt if any history in which Mr. Reitz 
had a hand would be a fair and impartial account of 
British rule in South Africa. At any rate, I hope I 
have been able to show in the following pages that 
the views of events given by Dr. Theal, that " recog- 
nised authority in the history of South Africa," as Mr. 
Bryce calls him, are to be received, in general, with 
great caution. 

This work, although now cast into the form of an 
independent history, was originally only a review of 
the important points in Dr. Theal's representation 
of British rule in Cape Colony, and part of a series 
of lectures delivered at a conference of Alumni. I 
have, however, developed the topics sufficiently to 
present a connected view of the political history of 
the colony from its occupation by the British to the 
time of the great trek. 


Queen's University, 

Kingston, Canada. 


Preface Pages v — viii 


Character of the Boer Civilisation — The Boer of the Back 
Veldt — Capetown a Hundred Years Ago — Willem Sluyter, 
the Boers' Classic Pages i — 21 

The Dutch East India Company — Its Growth and Decline — 
Influence of its Rule at the Cape of Good Hope 

Pages 22 — 43 


The First British Occupation— The State of the Colony in 
1795 — General Craig's Administration — The Boers of 
Graaff-Reinet Pages 44 — 73 

IV y 

The Bushman Race— The Racial Conflict on the Northern 
Frontier — Van J aars veld's Commando at the Zeekoe 
River Pages 74 — 82 



Lord Macartney's Administration — Reforms and Progress under 
British Rule — The " Jacobin Party " at the Cape ^ Sir 
George Yonge Pages 83 — 97 


Adriaan Van Jaarsveld's Insurrection — The Kaffir Raids of 
1799 — The Government's Border PoHcy — Bruintjes Hoogte 
Revolts again — General Dundas and Honoratus Maynier 
— Commando against the Kaffirs — Death of Tjaart van der 
Walt Pages c)Z — 115 

@ ■ 

The Restored Dutch Rule (1803— 1806)— The Second British 
Occupation — The Condition of the Slave in Cape Colony 
— Olive Schreiner's Testimony — The Condition of the 
Hottentots Pages 116 — 132 


Lord Caledon's Administration — Attempt to Solve the Hotten- 
tot Problem — The Operation of the Pass Law — Establish- 
ment of the Circuit Courts — Sir John Cradock's Policy — 
The Apprenticeship System — Expulsion of the Kaffirs from 
the Zuurveld Pages 133 — 147 


The Moravian Brethren and the London Missionary Society in 
South Africa— Dr. Vanderkemp and the Bethelsdorp 
Mission — The Black Circuit Pages 148 — 185 



The Case of the Bezuidenhouts — The RebelHon of Slachter's 
Nek — Dr. Theal's Heroics Pages i86 — 197 



The British Immigration of 1820 — Troubles of the New Settlers 
—British Farmers in the Zuurveld — The Scotch Settlement 

at Glen Lynden Thomas Pringle's African Sketches— 

The Old Home of the Bezuidenhouts . . . Pages \()Z — 210 


Administrative Changes — Lord Charles Somerset as Governor 
— The Liberty of the Press — The Liberal Party at Cape- 
town — The Constitution of the Colony — Meeting of Somer- 
set and Gaika— Makana the Warrior and Poet— The Kaffir 
Rising — The Ceded Territory Pages 2\i — 236 


The Philanthropic Societies in Great Britain — The Heroic Age 
of Evangelical Work and Literature — Protective Legislation 
for the Slaves— The Dutch Evangelical Circle at the Cape 
—Dr. John Philip and his. Researches in South Africa— 
The Emancipation of the Hottentot Race— An Old-time 
Speech at Surrey Chapel Pages 237 — 254 

XIV y 

The Whigs and " Friends of Humanity " in Power — Emancipa- 
tion of the Slaves— Dr. Theal on the Defects of the 
Measure — Attempts to Re-introduce a Vagrant Law De- 
feated — Whites and Blacks Pages 255 274 



The Question of Expansion — Exit Gens Bosjesmaiiica — The 
Difficulties on the Kaffir Frontier — The Kosa-Kaffir 
Tribes — The Commando System .... Pages 275 — 291 

XVI / 

Expulsion of Makoma from the Kat River — The Hottentot 
Settlement there — Further Expulsion of Makoma from 
the Tyumie — The Kaffir War of 1834- 1835 — Sir Benjamin 
D'Urban's Policy of Annexation — Lord Glenelg's Policy 
of Withdrawal— Attitude of the Wesleyan Missionaries — 
The Great Trek begins Pages 292 — 313 

XVII "^ >■ 

Natural Causes of the Great Trek— Desire of the Migrating 
Boer to Escape from British Jurisdiction — Stephen Kay's 
Testimony Pages 314 — 323 


The Rights of Briton and Boer in South Africa determined 
by their Work there — Defects of Dr. Theal's Histories of 
South Africa — Paul Kruger the Representative of the old 
Traditions of the Frontier Boer Pages 324 — 332 


A. Piet Retiefs Proclamation Page 333 

B. Dr. Theal's Latest Version Page ^37 



Character of the Boer CiviHsation — The Boer of the Back- 
Veldt — Capetown a Hundred Years Ago — Willem Sluyter, 
the Boers' Classic. 

Holland was at its highest strength and vigour 
as a naval and colonial power when the Dutch East 
India Company, about the middle of the seventeenth 
century, sent an expedition to occupy the Cape of 
Good Hope. The aim of the Company was nothing 
more than to secure a fine strategic position on the 
ocean route to the Indies, and a provisioning station 
for their fleets on their long voyages to and from 
the spice islands of the East. For the latter purpose 
a limited number of colonists, Dutch peasants of the 
poorest class, were encouraged to plant gardens and 
set up for themselves in the vicinity of the garrison • 
and the number of cultivators was increased every 
now and then by a Dutch soldier or foreign mercenary 



in the Company's service, who obtained his discharge 
with permission to join the ranks of the colonists. 
The new settlers soon began to drive the native 
Hottentot clans, the Kaapmans and Cochoquas of 
those days, from their old pasturage grounds in the 
neighbourhood of the settlement, and the first of those 
wars between white man and black for the possession 
of the soil arose. Yet in those earliest days, the racial 
feeling of the Dutch was not so fierce against the 
native as it afterwards became ; and the name of Peter 
van der Stael, official Comforter of the Sick, is quoted 
at need by the Dutch Reformed Church as that of a 
missionary who in 1660 taught Hottentots and slaves 
the principles of Christianity. 

The economic and social development of the new 
settlement was slow and of a peculiar type. The 
character of the climate and the early introduction 
of slaves (1658) made the burgher averse to manual 
labour, and, like all slave-owners, he became indolent 
as regards industrial development. The want of all 
the ordinary evidences of civilisation, of bridges or 
boats for fording the rivers, of made roads and sign- 
posts, made a disagreeable impression on the traveller, 
and irritated him with difficulties to which the Boer 
had grown accustomed. Except in the vicinity of Cape- 
town and in a few fertile valleys like Drakenstein and 
the Paarl, where a class of small freehold farmers pro- 
duced corn, wine and fruits, there was little cultivation 


of the land. Even in the Cape District, Barrow tells 
us not more than a fifteenth of the soil was under 
tillage,^ and while the corn and wine Boers in this 
part of the country were not wanting in industry and 
shrewdness, their methods were rough and defective. 
Their plough was a huge wooden instrument that 
required eight horses or a dozen oxen to drag it 
through the ground, and from the defects of its con- 
struction was not unfrequently travelling along the 
top of it ; their seed was carelessly sown, about a 
bushel and a half to the acre, and the use of manure 
was hardly known. Yet when there was water near, 
the Dutch agriculturist received a plentiful return 
for very little labour, and was quite contented to do 
as his fathers had done before him. A good au- 
thority remarks that the Dutch farmer with all his 
defective methods generally got as much out of the 
ground as his English neighbour, his long experience 
of the country counting for much. " The old Dutch- 
men had more under their nightcaps than most 
people gave them credit for." '^ 

^ John Barrow, An Account of Travels iti/o the Interior of 
South Africa^ vol. ii. p. 340. Barrow is the chief authority for 
the period during the first British occupation, 1795 — 1803. He 
is supreme in statistical and economic information, trustworthy 
as to facts, but harsh and unsympathetic in his delineation of 
the Boers. 

- Wilbcrforce Bird, State of the Cape of Good Hope in 1822, 
p. 176. Bird was many years in the Civil Service there ; a cool, 
unprejudiced observer, of somewhat limited official range. 

B 2 


But the class of small freehold farmers, the wine 
and corn Boers, as they were called, existed mainly 
in the district near Capetown, or at most sixty to 
seventy miles away, where the roads to the Cape- 
town market, though not very good, were still pass- 
able for the huge Cape waggon drawn by twelve 
or fourteen oxen. As the Dutch colonists increased 
in numbers and found their way over the mountains 
into the highlands of the interior, or spread eastward 
along the slopes and valleys of the coast, they became 
more vagrant and unsettled in their way of life. At 
Stellenbosch or Hottentots' Holland the Boer was 
an agriculturist producing wheat or wine, but once 
over the great mountain ranges he became a half- 
nomadic breeder ot cattle and sheep, occupying on 
a loose squatter tenure enormous tracts of country, 
from six to ten thousand acres, of which nothing but. 
a mere patch was ever cultivated. 

The life of a vee-Boer (cattle-Boer, or Boer of the 
veldt) was necessarily a rude one in these early 
days. His habitation was often a mere hovel, " four 
low mud walls with a couple of square holes to admit 
the light," and slovenly thatched with rushes. And 
this was often the dwelling of a man who owned 
several thousand head of cattle and had a band of 
dependents, slaves and Hottentots, at his command. 
Before the door stood the cattle kraal with its im- 
mense dung-heap, the accumulation of years, which 


he never disturbed except to take some of its 
hardened and trodden mass for fuel, when nothing 
better was to be had. In dry seasons he had often 
to roam far with his cattle in search of pasture, the 
whole famil}' accompanying him and living as com- 
fortably in the great waggon as they would have 
done at home. He never saw the face of civilisation, 
except it might be once a year when he made a 
journey to Capetown to sell the butter and soap 
made by his wom^en folk, and to purchase coffee, 
brandy, and the few other articles which he counted 
amongst the necessaries or luxuries of life. He 
seldom made bread in these days, or grew any corn 
even for his own use. He used little milk, or butter, 
or vegetables, but lived chiefly on animal food, 
especially mutton, great dishes of which, stewed in 
sheep's tail fat, appeared at his table three times a 

Such was the life of the vee-Boej- at this period all 
along the great line of mountain ranges which then 
form.ed the boundary of the colony, from Kamiesberg 
and the Ouder Roggeveld in the west, along the 
Nieuwvcld to Tarka and Bruintjes Hoogte in the 
east. It was only after you had crossed Karroo soil, 
and were nearing Capetown at Roodezand or the 
Hex River, that the country began to wear a richer 
aspect, with well-planted orchards and neat substan- 
tial farmhouses. Of course there were frontier Boers, 


especially in the Sneeuwberg district, who were 
better off than others, and better housed ; but even 
in the best cases there was little to represent the 
comforts and usages of civilised life. 

No doubt the descriptions of the passing traveller, 
even when he is as well informed and observant as 
Barrow and Thompson were, often give a faulty 
impression of a people and its way. The hut at 
Inversnaid, where Wordsworth saw his Highland Girl, 
was a poor enough dwelling, with a mud floor and a 
hole in the roof for the smoke to escape by, yet the 
poet was sufficiently sympathetic to see native worth 
and even graces of a kind there. But, unfortunately, 
no Boer poet ever passed by the house of Hans 
Coetzee of the Hantamberg, or Schalk Burger of the 
Sneeuwberg, to give us an intelligible report of that 
life, and do for them what Bret Harte did for as 
rough a subject, the Californian miner of 1848, 
Thomas Pringle, it is true, of the African Sketches, 
might have done it, but he was too much occupied 
in drawing pictures of the Bechuana native and 
the Bush-boy in the popular style of Gertrude of . 

It is evident that the Boer of the veldt had his 
compensations. He led an easy and leisurely life, 
with a band of slaves and Hottentots around him to 
do what labour was required ; he had plenty of food 
and tobacco, the latter being grown extensively in 


some districts ; he had his soopie of s^in or brandy, 
and his regular nap after cHnner ; he was fond of 
kilHng the wild game which generally abounded in 
his district, and thought nothing of riding a four or 
five days' journey for a hunting expedition, or an 
auction sale, or a sermon, all of which were great 
social events amongst the farmers of the veldt. On 
such occasions (bating the sermon of course) his 
mouth was a little uproarious and apt to disconcert 
strangers ; but it was no worse perhaps than that of a 
jolly company of Scotch farmers of the same period, 
unless indeed some hapless native chanced to excite 
his anger or contempt, for that was always an ele- 
ment which might give a touch of coarseness or even 
a tragic turn to life in South Africa, 

It was partly the nature of the country that made 
the Boer of the veldt what he was, an unsettled 
wanderer, with little attachment to the soil on which 
he stood and very impatient of the ordinary restraints 
and responsibilities of life. With the exception of 
the lowland belt along the coast and some green 
valleys amongst the mountains, the greater part of 
his country was a bare parched land all the way to 
the Orange River, without wood, verdure or running 
water, the Great Karroo being only a marked ex- 
ample of the whole. Whatever rivers there were 
shrank during the dry season into mere trickles and 
muddy pools, and a journey was rarely made into 


the interior without the traveller having to hasten 
anxiously forward in search of water. Destructive 
blights, hurricanes and otcasional plagues of locusts, 
which literally darkened all the air, helped to make 
the Boer careless of agriculture and somewhat 
slovenly, therefore, in the matter of fencing and 

But though little of the land in the interior was 
available or profitable for tillage at that time, it 
yielded a pasturage which, even where it was coarse 
and scanty, as in the Karroo parts, was sufficient to 
support herds of cattle and sheep on the large scale 
of grazing, " six acres to a sheep," practised by the 
Boer. Flocks and herds therefore were the wealth 
he prized most. " There is the best garden," said old 
Wentzel Coetzer of the Jarka to Pringle, as he saw 
his cattle coming home up the valley. And as a 
prudent grazier, with an eye to water and other 
things, he did not want any neighbour nearer than 
six miles away. 

It was in these pastoral solitudes that the Boer of 
the back-veldt grew up, a type evolved from a race 
of peasants and hardy adventurers of the lower class, 
thoroughly cut off by their position and habits from 
all the influences of modern civilisation. The cir- 
cumstances were highly favourable to the physical 
development of the Boers, for the interior with all 
its drawbacks was a very healthy region, with a 


singularly pure air, and nights that are cool even in 
the hot season. But they did not tend to produce 
a high type of state or of humanity. The population 
was too widely scattered and too vagrant in its habits. 
It was a civilisation of backwoodsnnen made perma- 
nent and universal, without possibility of adequate 
provision for the education, the social training, or even 
the effective political government of the inhabitants. 
As the colony grew in dimensions, occasionally a 
Dutch Governor would feel uneasy about the future, 
and make an effort to restrict or circumscribe the 
roving tendencies of his subjects. In 1743 the 
Governor-General of the Dutch Indies, van Imhofif, 
offered to convert on easy terms any burgher's 
yearly rent into perpetual leasehold ; but this, like 
other attempts of the same kind, had no effect what- 
ever on tendencies so deeply rooted as to be in- 
eradicable. The Dutch Boer preferred to be a rude 
lord of the veldt, ruling his household, his slaves and 
his herdsmen, in half-savage freedom, to the tamer 
life of a settled community, with its irksome labours 
and numerous obligations. The rapid expansion of 
the pastoral farmer caused an increasing demand for 
slaves, and still more for native servants to look after 
the numerous stock on these vast and lonely farms. 
The service of the latter was often more or less com- 
pulsory, that of vagrant or criminal Hottentots, or of 
Bushmen captured in a raid, and practically the only 


law known on the farm was that of the master's will. 
What laws did exist regarding the slave and native 
servant were Draconian in their severity to the col- 
oured man, from the necessity which the Boer felt of 
instilling a wholesome dread of his power into this 
savage and miscellaneous population around him. 
Any slave, male or female, who should raise a hand, 
even without weapons, against master or mistress, 
was condemned to death without mercy ; and the 
criminal procedure of the colony was full of pro- 
visions for examination by torture and excruciating 
penalties, designed to keep the slaves and native 
races in subjection. 

As a civilisation it had an economic side not unlike 
that of a Russian or Polish rural aristocracy of the 
same date ; but what made it unique was that its 
ruling figure, the aristocrat of the veldt, was a born 
peasant, with the hard, coarse, sound grain of a Low- 
German race, without traditions of refinement or 
chivalry, without arts and without literature, except 
for a Bible, which he was often unable to read. 
Whatever gentle blood, with its subtle instinct for 
refinement and a code of honour, flows in the veins 
of the South African Boer came mostly from the two 
or three hundred immigrants that Africa received from 
those Huguenot families whom the fanaticism of Louis 
XIV. had driven to seek new homes in Protestant 
States, and amongst whom there appear to have been 


some families of distinction. Ikit the Dutch Boer 
took care that the///;-. s-^//^ of his peasant stock should 
not be too much altered by any refinements or tradi- 
tions of gentility which the French settlers may have 
brought with them. He suppressed their language 
and dispersed them over districts occupied by Dutch 
farmers, with the result that anything distinctive in 
their national sentiment and manners, except perhaps 
a superior degree of neatness and industry observable 
in Franschehock and the Drakenstein, disappeared 
completely in a couple of generations. 

The great fact in the history of the Boer is that 
he has grown up in complete isolation from European 
culture. Except for the Bible, which he seems to 
have read very much as our Puritan ancestors did, 
as a warrant to go forth and spoil the heathen, and 
VVillem Sluyter's hymns, he had nothing that con- 
nected him with the traditions, the literature, or the 
art of Europe. It is true the Dutch young ladies at 
Capetown, as Captain Percival of his Majesty's Royal 
Irish regiment informs us, dressed after the English 
fashion, and were fairly accomplished in music and 
dancing. But the Boer of the veldt knew nothing 
of such frivolities. I have nowhere read that he 
possessed as much as a musical instrument, and it 
is unlikely that he paid much attention to the " gor- 
rah's humming reed," or the rude guitar with which 
the Hottentot herdsman cheered his melancholy lot. 


But he sang VVillem Sluyter's hymns morn and even, 
and said long graces before meat ; a peculiar people, 
and, had it not been for the temptation of that poor 
native race around them, a good one. 

His language alone would have doomed the Boer 
to intellectual isolation. It was not the language of 
Dutch books, or even the common speech of Hol- 
landers ; it was the Taal, a rude peasant tongue, with 
a vocabulary, Olive Schreiner says, as limited as that 
of pigeon-English, and still further debased by accre- 
tions from the lingo of Kaffirs and Hottentots. 
Even to-day, the same authority declares, the true- 
bred Boer finds it just as difficult to pass an exam- 
ination in literary Dutch as in English. Not that 
I think the Taal such a curiosity as that talented 
writer in her enthusiasm fancies it to be. The 
language of Ezekiel Biglow, or Tammas Haggart 
and his compeers in Thrums, or the Ligurian speech 
of an old peasant from Cogoletto would answer every 
point in Mrs. Schreiner-Cronwright's description of 
the Taal. But these vernaculars exist on the fringes 
of a cultured society and side by side with a literary 
language, which is equally current for the purposes 
of the press and the pulpit. But in Cape Colony, 
outside of Capetown, there was no cultured class at 
the time of the British occupation, and not more 
than four or five clerg)'men for the whole widespread 
Boer population. Except in a few thriving villages 


in the corn districts near the Cape, there were no 
schools. The only schoohnaster obtainable by the 
Boers of the veldt was generally a wandering soldier 
discharged from the Capetown garrison, and his 
functions were even more varied than those of Sy- 
brandt Mankadan, the historic dominie of Stellen- 
bosch ; for in addition to keeping the Boer's accounts 
and teaching his children to read and cipher, he 
might be asked to take a hand at the plough or 
other farm work. The condition of the whole colony 
is fairly represented by the fact that at this period it 
had no newspaper, no printing press, no regular 
mails, and also not a single professional tramp or 
beggar of the white race except the privileged 
Lazarus, whom Bird describes as lying at a rich 
man's gate on the road to Wynberg. 

This intellectual isolation of the Boer goes a long 
way to explain certain anomalies in his character. 
Nearly all the traditions which have been part of the 
education of Europe and America have passed him 
by, the civic spirit of progress, the ideals of science 
and philosophy, the enthusiasm of the saint and the 
scholar, the code of Bayard, the traditional, at least 
traditional, respect for truth — so candidly absent in 
the bulletins of Pretoria and the proclamations of 
Steyn, all that has been left out of the composition 
of the Boer as completely as the art of Monsieur 
Worth and other elegances of European life. The 


educated Afrikander of Bloemfontein and Pretoria 
may belong to l"2uropean civilisation, but the typical 
Boer, the Boer of the veldt, hardly does any more 
than the children of Rarabe and Moselekatse. The 
store-clerk in Omaha who knows all about the eti- 
quette of sport, and the shop-girl in Kansas who 
arranges her room after the boudoirs of Duchesses, 
as shown in the Home Jownial, are in comparison 
saturated with the traditions of Europe. 

All the same, it is in this Boer of the veldt that 
the peculiar virtues of the race seem to be concen- 
trated, its hardihood, its faculty for building up life 
in the wilderness, and its faith, its intense convictions 
on the subject of race and destiny and land, ons land] 
which have only partially found a Burns or a 
Bjornstjerne in Olive Schreiner. In her pages the 
Great Karroo at least, with its wastes of red sand 
and fantastic kopjes, and the charm of its solitude 
and great horizons, have been made familiar to the 
European imagination. 

The one place in this extensive country which 
had 'any resemblance to a town was the capital, 
Capetown. At the time of the British occupation it 
had a population of about five thousand white people 
and ten or eleven thousand slaves. It was pleasantly 
situated -on the shore of Table Bay, with the mag- 
nificent mountain scenery of Table Mountain, Lion's 
Hill and Devil's Hill in the background, almost 


encircling it on the land side. It was well laid out, 
the principal streets being wide and regularly built, 
with canals flowing through them, lined on each side 
with oak-trees. The houses were neat and substantial, 
in some cases elegant mansions with large gar- 
dens attached to them. The public buildings were 
handsome, and the citadel, Government House, 
barracks, grand parade, and batteries gave an air of 
state and military display to the town. 

Society in Capetown, even before the advent of 
the British, seems to have had all the characteristics 
of what is specifically called society in every part of 
the world. The young ladies there spoke French 
and English, had a fair musical education, and 
dressed after the fashion of Paris and the Hague. 
The Dutch admiral Stavorinus, who visited the Cape 
in 1778, is rather severe on their vanities ; " the first 
lesson they learn," he says, " is how to make them- 
selves agreeable to the men, and especially to 
strangers . . . nothing is omitted that can render 
them elegant and attractive." Stavorinus was evi- 
dently a steady-going old Hollander, who did not 
appreciate the characteristic colonial smartness and 
vivacity of the Cape ladies. In general, indeed, 
though he had a high opinion of the country farmers, 
he thought little of the inhabitants of Capetown. 
" The chief trait in their character," he says, " is the 
love of money, . . . palpable and universal." He 


thought the men lazy and inactive both in body and 
mind, indifferent to education or improvement, and 
distinguished by an " utter ignorance of whatever 
does not daily strike their outward senses." ^ Stavo- 
rinus was himself a Dutchman, and not likely to 
mistake, as an Englishman might, mere Dutch 
gravity for sloth. There was evidently something of 
the moral languor of a Dutch East Indian colony 
even at the Cape. 

The account which Captain Percival, of the Royal 
Irish Regiment, gives of Capetown society in 1801, 
agrees in most points with that of Stavorinus, except 
that he is all admiration for the smartness of the 
ladies, and has evidently a good opinion of their 
character. But the men seemed to him heavy and 
almost morose in their want of social graces. " A 
Dutchman's hat," he remarks, " seems nailed to his 
head even in the company of ladies." The captain is 
troubled more than once about the Dutchman's use 
of his hat. 

It is evident that the ordinary Capetown burghers 
had neither much taste for intellectual pursuits nor 
for smart society. They rather avoided social inter- 
course with the English, partly no doubt resenting 
the rigid English manner of regarding nothing as 
correct that was not English, and congregated by 

^ J. P. Stavorinus, Voyages to the East hidies (translation), 
vol. ill. p. 436. See also Barrow, vol. ii. pp. 102 and 386. 


themselves at the Concordia Club or elsewhere, 
playing cards and smoking interminable pipes, and 
no doubt making quiet, caustic criticisms on the 
British method of conducting things. 

Between the higher class, however, of Dutch officials 
and professional men and the British a social fusion 
seems soon to have taken place, and Wilberforce Bird, 
Comptroller of Customs at the Cape, gives an amusing 
picture of the daily loungers at the African Club 
House. in the Heeregragt about 1820. There British 
and Dutch civil servants, military gentlemen from the 
barracks, naval officers on the station, invalided In- 
dian officials recruiting their health in the bracing 
air of the Cape, Dutch advocates and physicians, 
assembled during the morning to circulate gossip 
and take critical observation of the passers-by, espe- 
cially ladies on their way to the milliner's shop next 
door. This was the aristocratic society at the 
Cape, and constituted an environment for the British 
Governor which might at times have considerable 
influence on his policy. 

For business Capetown depended largely on the 
retail trade with British and foreign ships calling at 
the port and the custom of passengers who stayed on 
shore to refresh themselves after the long voyage. 
Everybody at the Cape called himself, a koopuian, or 
merchant, whatever else he might be, the Cape Dutch, 
as Barrow and others remark, holding traffic in high 



honour.^ Almost every family even of the well-to-do 
took boarders ; great officials retailed the produce of 
their gardens by means of slaves ; ladies of society 
sent their female slaves to peddle feminine wares to the 
neighbouring villages and country houses ; and ships 
calling at the Cape were besieged by boats plied by 
slaves and filled with oranges, melons, and other fruits 
from the gardens of all classes of the inhabitants. 

But few except the lowest whites would consent to 
work at a trade, and most handicrafts were carried on 
by slaves, who, besides doing the carpentering, shoe- 
making, &c., required by the family, were generally 
hired out by their master. Even a family of inferior 
condition usually possessed six or eight slaves. The 
expenses of a Dutch household in Capetown were 
consequently small, and though few of the inhabit- 
ants were very rich the greater number were in easy 

But between the civilisation of Capetown and that 
of the Boer of the veldt there was not only a gap, 
there was all the contrast which in Lydgate's time 
existed between the Chancery clerks in London, or 
the sharp people of the Cheap, and the yokel from 
the hop-fields of Kent. Capetown was then the 
Boer's only market, and the place from which the 

1 This belonged to the traditions of the Dutch East India 
Company's service, in which the title of koopman was official 
and highly honourable. 


laws that governed him were promulgated. But he 
regarded it mainly as the seat of an alien aristocracy 
of officials, whether Dutch or English, cdele Heeren, 
who oppressed and pillaged him with their taxes and 
duties. Its ways and manners were strange to him, and 
the aristocrat of the veldt — the haughty Boer, as tra- 
vellers frequently call him — accustomed to lord it over 
a dependent train of Hottentots and slaves at home, 
when he visited Capetown became a helpless being in 
the hands of lawyers or designing agents, " Semans," 
as he called them, who took advantage of his igno- 
rance to plunder him. After disposing of his waggon 
load of butter and soap, 1,200 to 1,500 pounds, per- 
haps for £10 or ;^40, about half its market value, he 
inspanned again, and was no doubt glad to find him- 
self once more across the Berg or the Breede River 
on his way home to the Roggeveld or Camdeboo, 
where he perhaps consoled himself by reading 
Willem Sluyter's Fable of the Toivn and Country 
Mouse, or a favourite stanza or two from the Buiten 
Leven in praise of rural solitude and tranquillity. 

De wijse Vaders leefden immer 

Meest buyten, niet in't Stadsch getimmer. 
In hutten op hete ensaem veld 
Was slechts haer wooning neer-gestelt. 

Soo wierd van haer op't best, in tenten, 

De Stad, op vaste fondamenten 

Selfs door Gods meester-konst gebouwt, 
Verwacht en door 't geloov' aenschouwt. 

C 3 


God selfs om-vleescht gaend' hier beneden, 
Hield noyt soo veel van macht'ge Steden. 

Ging Nazareth en Bethlehem 

Gods Zoon niet voor Jerusalem ? 
Moest niet deglans van sijne werken 
In kleyne Stedekens uytsperken ? 

Moest niet d'Olijfberg of Woestijn 

Sijn keurigste vertrek-plaets zijn ? 

The patriarchs old preferred to dwell 

In fields, not in the city's cell ; 

And pitched their tents where best they felt, 

Afar upon the lonely veldt. 

Their wanderings here should end at last 

In Zion, whose foundations fast 

Were laid by God's own master-hand, 

Their hope, their prtze, their promised land. 

God's self, when in the flesh He came. 

Sought not great towns, but loved the name 

Of Nazareth and Bethlehem 

Before that of Jerusalem ; 

And little hamlets had the glory 

Of all His wondrous works and story; 

Dearest to Him the solitudes 

Of desert plains or Olive's woods. 

These two stanzas may give the reader some idea 
of Willem Sluyter, the Boers' classic ; for, Hke other 
great sages, he is nearly always saying the same 
thing. The poetry of Sluyter is as good a help for 
understanding the life of the veldt Boer — what is 
spiritual or religious in it, I mean — as anything I 
have come across. His simple faith and quaint 


pastoral ideas of life are expressed there in a way 
which he can feel and understand. To this day the 
simple old pastor of Eibergen, in Gelderland, obsolete 
in his own country, is for the Boer a Shakespeare and 
a Cowper combined.^ But perhaps with the younger 
generation Mr. Reitz's collection of patriotic anti- 
British ballads has displaced him. 

^ My edition of Sluyter was picked up in a farmhouse near 
Poplar Grove (old Orange Free State) by Frederic Hamilton, 
war-correspondent with the Canadian contingent. It is in 
black-letter, and must date back to the early part of the 
eighteenth century. "All that was not the Bible seemed to 
be Sluyter," Hamilton remarked to me. 


The Dutch East India Company — Its Growth and Decline — Its 
Rule at the Cape of Good Hope. 

The fortunes of Cape Colony were so intimately- 
bound up with those of the Dutch East India Com- 
pany and with the growth and decline of Holland as 
a Great Power, that a brief account of these things 
may be useful for the reader. 

The Dutch East India Company had at one time 
been the greatest of the great chartered Companies 
which the chief maritime powers of Europe esta- 
blished in the East during the seventeenth century. 
Holland, Denmark, England, and France were all 
eager to seize a share of that lucrative Eastern trade 
which had been the possession of the Portuguese 
since the days of Albuquerque ; and the chartered 
Company, with full powers of levying troops and 
making war or peace, was the special form which 
expansion took in that age. Then, as now, the real 
force behind commercial expansion, and indispens- 
able for its support, was the military power ; and the 


Dutch, whose ships were the most numerous and 
best equipped and whose sailors were the most skilful 
of that time, soon won a commanding position in the 
East, especially in the Indian Archipelago, where the 
natives, dispersed in small communities amongst the 
different islands, were less able to make any resist- 
ance. Their most serious conflicts were with the 
Spaniards and Portuguese, the latter of whom they 
drove out of Ceylon, Malacca, the Moluccas, and the 
best of their Eastern settlements, thus securing ex- 
clusive possession of the coveted spice trade. Their 
ships patrolled the Straits of Sunda and Malacca in 
the trading season, and their factories and forts were 
planted in the most advantageous positions along the 
coasts and islands of the East from the Persian Gulf 
to the Yellow Sea. 

It need hardly be said that there was nothing 
scrupulous in their methods in those days when, 
according to common saying, " no peace held good 
beyond the line." They tortured and massacred the 
small English settlement in Amboyna on mere sus- 
picion, pretended suspicion, Crawfurd says,^ of a plot 
against themselves, in 1623 ; and Governors like 
Vlaming and Valckenicr conducted their executions 
in wholesale fashion, the latter massacring 10,000 

^ Crawfurd, History of the hidiati Archipelago. The author 
was British Resident at the Court of the Sultan of Java about 


Chinese at once in Batavia. It was an age which did 
not spare life, and the scattered Empire of the 
Dutch resting on a number of isolated military posts 
with garrisons varying in number from 30 to 
200 European soldiers, could only be secured by 
fostering strife and jealousy between the native 
princes (Stavorinus himself accepts it as a cardinal 
principle of their rule), and by the severest measures 
of repression. 

It was not a genuine territorial empire, but a series 
of stations or small settlements on the coast. Each 
of these had its separate establishment, its fort and 
garrison, its residency and warehouse, and, if large 
enough, its European village, with surrounding Malay, 
Buginese or Chinese encampments, its regular staff of 
Governor, Second Governor, Commandant, all " Senior 
Merchants," Master of Port, Paymaster Fiscal, &c., 
" Merchants " or" Junior Merchants " and, if there was 
a considerable Dutch population, also such officials 
as a Pastor, a Krankbezoeker, or Visitor of the Sick, 
and perhaps an itinerant schoolmaster, all in the pay 
of the Company. 

The service of the Company offered a tempting 
career in some respects to an adventurous young 
Dutchman who had influence with the Chambers at 
home ; but in these early days it was a rough and 
dangerous one. What between fighting the Spaniards 
and Portuguese, and never-ceasing conflicts with the 


natives, and the frightful ravages of scurvy and 
dysentery, in the outward bound ships particularly, 
it cost the Dutch many lives to establish that famous 
empire in the East Indies, It was no uncommon 
thing for a ship with a crew of 200 to arrive in the 
Texel or at the Cape with hardly enough hands to 
take in saiV thirty or forty of them having died on the 
passage, and most of the rest being down with scurvy. 
Of the seamen and soldiers that sailed every year for 
the Indies, Stavorinus calculates that about a sixth 
died on the way. But it was no bad service for any 
roaring blade or reckless adventurer to try his for- 
tunes in, and its rank and file were recruited from the 
various nations of Europe, refugees and deserters 
from Prussia, Hanover, and Sweden, and men kid- 
napped in the low ports. 

The great Recueil des Voyages (Amsterdam, 1754) 
contains the story of their early navigations and war- 
fare in the East, takings of settlements, brushes with 
Portuguese on the high seas, conflicts with natives, 
mutinies, &c., written by men who took part in 
them. The Dutch are a stout, fighting, persistent 
race, and in the course of half a century had cleared 
the Portuguese pretty well out of the Archipelago. 
A fair sample in a small way of their doings is the 
taking of Solor Island, in the Timor group, by Cap- 
tain Apollonius Schot, of Middleburg, in 161 3. A 
^ Stavorinus, vol. ii. p. 93. 


couple of Dutch ships sail into the bay, dismount the 
poorly-served Portuguese battery at the entrance, 
draw up before the fort and small native village, 
plant a battery also on the land, and blaze away. 
After the village has been burned and a tower or two 
of the fort battered down, there is a capitulation, and 
the Portuguese garrison, some thirty or forty men, 
are transported to the nearest Portuguese settlement, 
and the Dutch enter into their labours, occupying 
their fort and taking up their commerce with the 
natives, that is^ calling upon the latter to supply them 
exclusively with their commodities, in this case bees- 
wax, ambergris, and sandal-wood, at a fixed price. 
But the ending was not always so merciful, and on 
both sides many men languished and died in prison. 

It was to obtain a convenient half-way house and 
victualling station for this extensive commerce with 
the East that, in 1652, an expedition under Jan Van 
Riebeek took possession of the Cape of Good Hope, 
and thus laid, without much suspecting it, the foun- 
dations of their greatest colony. But the Cape, which 
had no rich trade in silks or spices to give them, was 
a station only of second or third-rate importance in 
the Company's service, and administered on the same 
system as the settlements at Macassar or Samarang. 

The most flourishing period of the Company was 
the middle part of the seventeenth century. In the 
Directors' Report of the year 1664, the Company is 


said to possess about 140 vessels, well provisioned 
and mounted with guns, and to employ about 
25,000 men. Its yearly expenditure in fitting out its 
expeditions to the Indies (" ce que Von envoie aux 
Indes eti argent coinptant, marcJiandises, vivres et autres 
choses necessaires ") was from two and a half to three 
millions, and the merchandise it brought yearly from 
the Indies yielded " nine, ten or eleven millions of 
livres,^ about a million sterling." 

The seventeenth century was the great period of 
Dutch commerce and expansion generally. More 
than half the carrying trade of Europe was in their 
hands, particularly that of the Baltic. The herring 
fisheries in the northern seas alone employed over a 
hundred thousand Dutch seamen. Even the profits 
of the East Indian trade, great as they were for the 
first sixty or seventy years of its establishment, 
accounted for but a part of the wealth which flowed 
into the United Provinces, and of the merchandise 
which filled the immense warehouses of Amsterdam, 
then the special emporium for the East. But it was 
their dominion in the Indies which trained their best 
sailors and employed their best ships, the great East 
Indiamen of eight hundred or a thousand tons burden, 
and carrying from forty to fifty guns. As long as 
these latter continued to be factors of importance in 
naval warfare, Holland was a Sea Power of the first 
* Directors' Report in Recueil, vol. 1. p. cxxv. 


rank. It was their Indian empire also that called 
forth their highest energies as colonists and navi- 
gators, and gave a kind of imperial grandeur to their 
history. Literature and art too blossomed on this 
opulent soil, and the commercial enterprise and 
energy of that age had no doubt something in 
common with the spirit which inspired the labours 
of Grotius and the art of Rembrandt. Most of the 
classic names of Dutch art and learning belong to 
the same era. 

The foundations of this prosperity had been laid 
in habits of frugality and patient industry which were 
the scoff of an age whose study was but little on 
economics. It was no courtier of Versailles or White- 
hall, but a sturdy English republican and poet, who 
wrote the famous satire on their thrifty ways and 
the laborious diligence of their poldering operations, 

To make a bank was a great plot of state ; 
Invent a shovel, and be a magistrate. 

But the rulers of the East Indies could afford to 
disregard the jest of Marvel. The domestic sim- 
plicity of their manners was proverbial, and happily 
illustrated in the life of their greatest naval hero, 
De Ruijter, who was found by the Spanish admiral 
and grandee who visited him in a plain house in the 
outskirts of Amsterdam, reading his Bible, while his 
wife sat at her knitting. It was always the same 


Story — Hanc olim veteres vitayn coluere Sabini — till 
the New Americanism arose to overpower with its 
superb material magnificence those primitive concep- 
tions of greatness. In the presence of that great 
democracy with its Waldorfian luxuries, the proverbs 
of Solomon are growing obsolete as they never did 
in the high days of King and Kaiser, for the people 
had no share in them then ; almost as obsolete as 
Dante's tirades against the fine dress of the Florentine 
ladies. " There is nothing too good for my little 
woman," says a solid, quiet, powerful man, whom a 
Montana mine has suddenly made rich, and presents 
his wife with 40,000/. worth of diamonds at Tiffany's, 
And the little woman, who washed her own steps a 
year ago, knows how to wear them. Radical oratory, 
I observe, has lost its voice over it, and I hear 
nothing at all in these days about a " bloated aris- 

We are not idle on the other side, however. I see 
that the President of one of the great universities in 
the States, with the practical turn of his countrymen, 
is at present healthily engaged in proving by actual 
experiment, to be published in the Magazines, that 
he can live, he and his family, on thirteen cents a day, 
or it may be fifteen, which is little more than the 
price of a working man's cigar in Chicago or New 
York. Such a rebuke to luxury I have not read of 
since George Fox's leather suit, or Diogenes in his 


tub ; the former, by the way, would be a great help 
to the President, if he means to hold out for more 
than a year. 

The decline of the Dutch East India Company, 
along with that of Dutch commerce generally, com- 
menced early in the eighteenth century. But long 
before that the rivalry of the English had begun to 
be felt. In 165 1 the English Navigation Act, de- 
priving the Dutch of the right to carry freight 
between England and her Colonies or between Eng- 
land and other European countries, was a heavy 
blow to the great carrying trade of Holland. The 
Dutch felt that they must fight for their commerce, 
and the Navigation Act was the substantial cause 
of a series of naval wars between the two Powers 
in which, after great victories on each side and some 
indecisive fights, the balance of power ultimately 
remained with the British. For notwithstanding the 
skill of the two greatest of Dutch admirals, the elder 
Tromp and De Ruijter, and the memorable success 
of the latter's sudden swoop into the Thames at a 
time when most of the English ships were out of 
commission, the Dutch navy during these wars was 
hard put to it to protect Dutch shipping, and more 
than once completely lost the command of the seas 
and its own coasts. The end of it all was the formal 
concession by Holland at the Peace of Westminster, 
and again at that of Utrecht (17 13), of the much 


contested "right of the flag" and England's supre- 
macy on the seas. That meant, as Capt. Mahan has 
pointed out, the transference to British ships of most 
of the great carrying trade the Dutch possessed, the 
merchants of all countries naturally preferring a 
shipping the security of which was guaranteed by 
the power of its navy. Even the Dutch capitalists 
themselves became timid ; and though for long after 
they continued to be the money-lenders of Europe, 
did not care to risk investments in distant colonies, 
and an expansion of trade which their naval power 
might not be able to protect. The leadership in 
commercial and colonial enterprise thus passed with 
the supremacy of the seas into the hands of the 

The fight had been a gallant one on both sides _ 
When it began, and it had been sought rather than 
avoided by the Dutch, there had seemed to be no 
great disparity between the two Powers. At the 
beginning of the seventeenth century, the population 
of Holland, according to Motley, was about the same 
as that of England, three and a half millions, and 
in wealth and the mere number of ships that could 
be used for purposes of war, the advantage lay with 
the Dutch. 

But while the growth of England was only begin- 
ning, that of Holland was already at the height. 
With a small acreage, about a tenth of that of the 


United Kingdom, with no natural riches or great 
manufactures, Holland could not keep her place 
amongst the Great Powers. By the close of the 
eighteenth century England had trebled her popula- 
tion, exclusive of that of Scotland and Ireland, while 
that of Holland, exhausted by wars too great for 
her resources, had declined. There had never, 
indeed, been any surplus population sufficient to 
develop or make a natural garrison for her great 
acquisitions over the ocean. At the Cape all the 
efforts of the Dutch East India Company could not 
procure, even at the time of the Huguenot influx 
into Holland, any great immigration from the mother 
country, and the pojDulation of that important colony 
was slowly recruited from discharged soldiers of the 
garrison, often of German or Swedish extraction, or 
roving adventurers who had no particular ties of 
sentiment or family with the country which governed 

But the seeds of decline lay also in the character 
of the Company itself It had been founded, and it 
continued to be conducted, for purely commercial 
ends. What the Dutch, with characteristic prudence, 
sought abroad was not territorial dominion, but posts 
of vantage and exclusive privileges for their com- 
merce. They seized territory and built forts, but 
only for the purpose of securing control of the 
products of the district, which they forced the natives 


to sell at a small price exclusively to the Company. 
The result was detrimental to the character of the 
Company's agents and officials. They did not 
conquer, administer, and civilise. They hardly felt, 
therefore, the responsibilities of Government, while 
they were exposed to all the temptations of absolute 
rulers in remote and isolated dependencies. 

A constant source of corruption also existed in the 
method adopted by the Company for the payment of 
their officials. The salaries of these had been fixed 
on the frugal scale of the early days of the Republic, 
when a burgher-like simplicity of life, such as is 
recorded of De Ruijter, was not uncommon amongst 
them. In the time of Stavorinus even (1774), the 
vice-governor at Macassar, an important settlement, 
with a civil and military establishment of 800 men, 
could not make on an average more than 500 rix- 
dollars a year, about j^ioo sterling, from his lawful 
emoluments, but he might easily make four or five 
times that sum in a corrupt manner. As he happened 
to be a very honest man (Bernard van Pleuren), it 
was rather hard on him.^ The Governor-General of 
the Dutch Indies himself at Batavia, the head- 
quarters, received little more than a thousand pounds 
a year by way of fixed salary, but he usually made 
;^20,ooo in the exercise of his privileges. ^ The 
temptations of such a situation for men who had 
1 Stavorinus, vol. ii. p. 274. ^ Idem^ vol. ii. p. 131. 



grown accustomed to the luxurious habits of the 
East were very great, and the Company's agents 
almost everywhere abused the privileges they pos- 
sessed of supplementing their salaries by private 
trade and the collection of duties. A universal 
corruption, which deprived the Company of much of 
its revenue, prevailed throughout the Dutch settle- 
ments. Even men like the brave and hardy Speel- 
man, the conqueror of the Celebes, sank in the end 
under the influence of the climate and the habits 
around them.^ For there was all the luxury and 
indulgence of Oriental life in these Dutch settle- 
ments, and many also of its forms and usages, the 
servile obedience of the surrounding population, of 
Javanese tomniagongs or native middlemen, of Chinese 
captains, and of a crowd of dependents and slaves, 
the dancing girl and the black seraglio, or something 
very like it.^ The Residency at Samarang or that 
at Joana, with its dome, its gilded cornices and 
curious carvings, was a much more magnificent place 
than the corresponding edifice at the Cape. The 
junior merchant went abroad with a slave holding a 
sunshade over his head, and the Dutch lady, mostly 
with a strain of native blood in her, was as fond of 
her betel-box as any Buginese woman. 

This Eastern luxury was not without its effect on 

^ Crawfurd, History of the Indian Archipelago^ vol. ii. p. 291. 
^ Stavorinus, vol. ii. p. 156. 


the ancient simplicity of the mother-country. Many 
a retiring official, no doubt, brought home with him 
the laxities of Vlaardingen or Samarang to infect the 
soberer life of Dutch cities, and startle even people 
who were not quite as precise as the Calvinists of 
Groningen. But generally speaking the luxury of 
the Dutch at home seems to have taken charac- 
teristically moderate and respectable forms ; no 
Neronian or Trimalchian extravagances, but only 
an excessive love of ease and comfort, a furious 
rivalry in rare plants and costly gardens, and a love 
for genre pictures of a not too elevated school ; in 
short, a general relaxing and a settling down into 
comfortable enjoyment of life as it was — such life as 
we see, for example, in the quiet opulence of the 
interiors of Gerard Douw and De Hoogh. The art 
of these masters reflects perhaps better than any- 
thing else the seductions to which the Dutch 
temperament lay most open. 

To other nations, indeed, Dutch art seems a greater 
interpreter of the national history than Dutch letters 
probably because it is better known. One need only 
look at the portraits of the two Admiral Tromps, 
father and son, to see the change that half a century 
of wealth and conquest had made in the manners of 
the Dutch. Old Marten, the son of a sea-captain, 
with his broad weather-beaten visage, roughly lined 
and seamed, and apparently a little carbuncular, 

D 2 


looks like a man who has known the hardships of a 
seaman's life in those days, the fluxes and scurvies, 
the filth and the hardy profanity of the forecastle. 
But there is something great in the massive head and 
in the strenuous countenance, on which great sagacity 
and resolution are plainly written. Equally bold and 
circumspect as the occasion required. Marten was the 
crafty Odysseus of the Narrow Seas, and could bring 
300 sail of Dutch merchantmen safely through the 
English Channel, though Blake and Penn were wait- 
ing for him in the Downs. 

But Jaevens's portrait is admirable also for what it 
tells us of the manners of the man as shown by his 
dress. There was no regular uniform in the navies 
of those days, and Marten Tromp might have had 
himself painted in lace and shining armour like most 
of the Admirals and Generals-at-Sea of that period ; 
but he chose to appear in what was evidently his 
daily wear, a plain, serviceable-looking doublet, not 
too elegantly cut or adjusted, and with nothing more 
ornamental in its make than a cuff, which I think 
was then old-fashioned. There is no lace cravat, 
only a plain square-cut linen collar, on which the 
long hair, now growing thin and ungracefully relaxed 
with age, falls in careless unkempt ends. A small 
medallion hangs on his breast ; but except for that 
there is no decoration, neither chain, lace, embroidery, 
nor lappel about the person of this old sea-dog of 


Holland. It is very different from a Reynolds' 
portrait of an English admiral, a peer in lace and 
ruffles, with a fleet in action on the distant back- 
ground. Each artist was true enough, no doubt, to 
the character of his subject ; yet there was probably 
more in common between Marten Tromp and our 
English Boscawens and Hawkes than the elegant art 
of Reynolds and his school quite brings out. 

Cornelis, the younger Tromp, is a fitter subject for 
Sir Joshua than his father. There is no doubt about 
him ; he is as much a magnifico as Lord Sandwich 
or Prince Rupert himself. Plump and sleek, with 
elegantly curled locks in his earlier portrait as 
Lieutenant Admiral of the Maze, in his age he is 
still more resplendent, a perfect dandy of the Re- 
storation period, with a gorgeous hat and feather, 
superb cravat and immense peruke descending in 
heavy curls over his steel corselet. He was a gallant 
seaman too, though rasher and less capable than his 
father. His face has a bull-dog kind of courage in 
it, but is fleshy and puffed, and altogether wanting in 
the strenuousness of old Marten's. 

Such changes, of course, are part of the general 
history of civilisation. No nation can retain with 
increasing wealth the ancient simplicity of its manners, 
and the real question is what capacities of political 
evolution lie in it, what new stratum of the national 
life it can bring forward to replace or recruit the class 


whose energies have begun to flag from success and 
satiety, i But apparently there was no reserve ot 
strength in so small a nation as Holland to produce 
a second growth. The ruling mercantile class also 
had grown apprehensive, timorous about their com- 
mercial interests, and began to be fatally influenced 
by the idea of restricting and contracting their trade 
and settlements to some fancied point of security 
and easy management, instead of seeking a larger 
unity and a bolder development of their empire. In 
the case of the East India Company, which included, 
one way or another, nearly all the influential mer- 
chants of Holland, this policy had a damaging effect 
on many of their settlements. They conquered islands 
like Celebes, only to find that they lost most of their 
commercial value in their hands,^ and the great colony 
at the Cape suffered particularly from this policy of 
restricting development. In the Moluccas and the 
Banda islands they destroyed every year great quan- 
tities of clove and nutmeg trees to secure a mono- 
poly for what they could bring in their own ships. 
Their ideal was to have a strictly limited trade, 
with high dividends to the Company. But the re- 
sult was that the -consumption of these spices in 
Europe, which in any case perhaps was on the 
wane, decreased greatly as the price rose, pepper 
and ginger taking their place in a great measure ; 
See Crawfurd, vol. ii. p. 443. 


and every now and then the Company had to burn 
immense surplus quantities of spice at Amboyna 
and Middleburg. 

Owing to this policy the famous Eastern trade was 
carried on, as far as oceanic commerce was concerned, 
by a comparatively small number of ships, about four- 
teen every year during the seventeenth century, and 
from twenty to thirty during the eighteenth. As there 
was no encouragement of private enterprise, most of 
the commerce of the East, especially the tea trade from 
China, fell into the hands of British and American 
private traders, and even the intercourse between 
Holland and her own Colonies, in spite of the heavy 
duties on foreign shipping, was largely carried on by 
the ships of those two nations.^ From these causes 
the Dutch trade and capital employed in the East 
remained on too small a basis to meet the increasing 
expense of armaments and the losses in time of war. 
In the eighteenth century most of the settlements 
were appearing in the Company's books with balances 
on the wrong side. In 1779 the excess of expend- 
iture over receipts in all of them taken together 
amounted to nearly ;f 150,000 sterling. 

But the sales of Eastern merchandise at home still 
yielded a large profit, and the value to the nation of 
a field which gave employment to 20,000 common 
men, and a high career as administrators, navigators, 

^ Crawfurd, Indian Archipelago, vol. iii. p. 289. 


and merchants to some thousands more, is not, of 
course, computed in the Company's books. Those, 
however, who were best acquainted with the condi- 
tion of the Company's affairs. Governor van Imhoff 
in 1743, and the great authority. Governor Mossel in 
1753, had begun to sound a note of warning, though 
the latter struggles to make the figures look as well 
as possible: and honest Stavorinus, in 1777, wrote 
openly that the Company was likely to have a " disas- 
trous termination at no very distant period if more 
effectual measures of redress are not resorted to." 
Stavorinus, indeed, has already begun to moralise 
on the " inscrutable designs of Providence," which 
enlargeth a nation and straiteneth it again. His 
gloomy prognostics are founded mainly on three 
points, the inability of Holland to supply the sea- 
men and soldiers required to maintain these distant 
settlements, the prevalence of corruption amongst the 
Company's officials, and the expense of their wars 
in the acquisition of territory.^ 

Wars, no doubt, especially European wars, were 
amongst the immediate causes of the Company's 
ruin. Its basis was not large enough to support the 
losses inflicted on its Colonies and commerce in 1781, 
when the Dutch, in the hope of overwhelming a 
dangerous rival, joined France, Spain, and the United 
States in their war with Britain. In these years the 
^ Vol. iii., chapters vi. and vii. 


Company was sinking ever deeper into debt, all the 
more hopelessly that its difficulties were not fully 
made public, most of the leading merchants of the 
nation having an interest in the monopolies, and even 
the national pride of the Dutch being concerned to 
cover up the decaying condition of this relic of their 
former grandeur. 

It was unfortunate for the great colony at the 
Cape that it belonged to the Company, and was tied 
to the system of administration and the policy 
established in the Dutch Indies. 

In the Company's service it counted only as a 
station of second or third-rate standing. There were, 
as Crawfurd observes, few men of much note amongst 
the administrators of the Dutch Indies (one result of 
the purely mercantile aims of the Company), and 
these naturally aspired, not to an appointment at the 
Cape, but to one at Ceylon or Amboyna, which was 
in the high road of things, and led direct to a seat 
in the Council at Batavia and the chance of the 
governor-generalship. The Cape was only their 
" frontier fortress " and victualling station, and when 
the great conflict began, the best regiments, as a 
matter of course, were withdrawn from it to guard 

Yet the Cape had some good governors, like Simon 
van der Stel and Ryk Tulbagh, men who identified 
themselves with the colony and its interests rather 


than with the Company, though even Governor 
Simon in his later years seems to have succumbed 
to the relaxing atmosphere of the colonial service, as 
his son Wilhelm Adriaan, who ruled after him, did 
in a still greater degree. In general, the colony at 
the Cape, under the aristocratic rule of these days, 
was a helpless participator in all the evils of the 
system. Both the States-General and the Directors, 
it is true, made at times earnest efforts to remedy 
disorders and the prevalent corruption, but there was 
something in the declining fortunes of Holland 
which made great or fundamental reforms impossible. 
There was the moral and material exhaustion follow- 
ing on conflicts too great for the strength of the 
nation, there was the consciousness of its military 
weakness and the decay of public spirit which that 
caused, and there was the insufficiency of Holland as 
a centre for the supply of immigrants and troops. 
All these things, together with the selfish policy of 
the Company, which sacrificed the trade of the 
colony to protect its own, made the rule of the Dutch 
at the Cape unsatisfactory, deficient especially in 
guidance and enterprise. 

The celebrated Abbe Raynal, one of the philo- 
sophic spirits of the eighteenth century, has a story 
in his great Histoire pJiilosophique et economique des 
Deux Indes of the last Portuguese Governor of 
Malacca, who had been forced after an obstinate 


resistance to surrender that settlement to the Dutch. 
The Dutch general, it is said, asked him if they ever 
expected to get it back again. " Yes," replied the 
Portuguese, " wheil your sins have become greater 
than ours." I don't know that their sins ever became 
greater, or even as great, for the Dutch are naturally 
a prudent people, but evidently their time too had 
come in these last years of the eighteenth century, 
and both France and Britain, the Mede and the 
Persian, were already at their gates. 


The First British Occupation — The State of the Colony in 
1795 — General Craig's Administration — The Boers of 

In 1793 Pitt had reluctantly made up his mind that 
there was nothing for it but war with the new French 
democracy, which was showing more resources than 
he had expected, and had begun to take up an 
aggressive attitude towards Holland. The worst of 
it was that in that country, as in many others, the 
defects of the old regime had created a strong 
revolutionary party, which was ready to believe in an 
era of universal equality and fraternity, and to ally 
itself with the French invaders whenever they 
appeared. A revolution in Holland therefore meant 
the practical control by the French of Dutch naval 
resources and Dutch power in the Indies. In these 
circumstances one of the first things England had 
to consider was the position of the Dutch naval 
station at the Cape of Good Hope, which, as Sir 
Francis Baring, one of the Directors of the English 


East India Company, wrote at this time to Secretary 
Dundas, " commanded the passage to India as effec- 
tually as Gibraltar doth the Mediterranean." The 
States-General and the Directors of the Dutch East 
India Company, who were of the Orange and Anti- 
Revolutionary party, were well aware of their weak- 
ness, and consented, after some hesitation, to receive 
a British garrison at the Cape to secure it against a 
French attack, partly as a return for the services, 
which they gratefully acknowledged, of the British 
navy in guarding and convoying their commerce in 
the East.^ A reverse, however, which the French 
suffered in the Netherlands at this time, seems to 
have calmed the apprehensions of the British Govern- 
ment, and nothing was done till an event occurred 
which altered the whole situation. The French 
General Pichegru, taking sudden advantage of a 
severe frost, called his soldiers from their winter 
quarters, and crossing the Meuse and the Scheldt 
took possession of Holland, overthrew the govern- 
ment of the Stadtholder, and set up a new " Batavian 
Republic " under French auspices, and really under 
French control. 

It was as a counter-weight to this blow and a 

necessary measure of self-defence that Britain fitted 

out the expedition, ultimately amounting to between 

four and five thousand troops, which in 1795 ^took 

1 See Records of Cape Colony, 1793-' 796, PP- 4-18. 


possession of the Cape, after a very slight resistance 
on the part of the garrison and the inhabitants. 

The British Governnnient had certainly little idea of 
the administrative problems it was entailing on itself 
and its successors. The territorial dimensions of the 
Cape Colony, it is true, were already imposing, the 
trekking habits of the Dutch farmer having constantly 
extended its area till it now covered over a hundred 
thousand square miles. But the Dutch population in 
this extensive territory was not really large, consist- 
ing, according to the census returns of 1795, of about 
15,000. There was, besides, a population of slaves 
numbering about 17,000, and a large number of 

But economically as well as politically this great 
territory was in a state of confusion and disorganisa- 
tion. The Dutch East India Company, under whose 
rule it was, had become bankrupt, and had been obliged 
the year before to declare itself unable to meet the 
interest on its loans. Its paper money, which as legal 
tender had become the only circulation in the colony, 
had depreciated over fifty per cent., and was besides, 
owing to the negligence of the Company's methods, 
extensively corrupted by fraudulent issues. The 
farmers were impoverished by monopolies and re- 
strictions of trade, which existed for the benefit of 
the Company and its officials ; the rents of these in 
the remoter districts were years in arrear, and the 


regular collection of taxes had become impossible. 
Fiscal exactions had driven away the trade with 
foreign shipping ; and internal trade, owing to the 
depreciation of the paper money, was mostly carried 
on by barter. Corruption, as might be expected, 
went hand in hand with mismanagement. Commo- 
dore Blankett, of the Royal Navy, in his report to 
the Admiralty, states that "the duties on import to 
Capetown on some articles come near a fourth of the 
whole, value, and there is a charge of five per cent, on 
its re-export, without any drawback whatever being 
allowed. This is a great discouragement (to trade) 
as well as the mode of levy, which is done at the gate, 
liable to the connivance or oppression of the tax- 
gatherer who collects it, on the spot or after sale, in 
proportion as he chooses to favour the parties. In 
some such spirit of levy are all their taxes gathered, 
so that an officer of revenue makes his place worth 
holding without considering the salary more than an 
appendage to his office." {Records of Cape Colony, 
Tan. 10, 1796.) 

The burghers themselves, the merchants of Cape- 
town as well as the farmers of the interior, felt that 
the Company's mismanagement had brought the 
colony to the verge of ruin. Amongst the different 
reports the British Government was careful to obtain 
before commencing the work of reform and restoration, 
there is one from a Mr. Kersteins, a Dutch merchant 


of Capetown, from which the reader may form an idea 
of the disorganisation which reigned in the affairs of 
Cape Colony, The report is evidently, as Admiral 
Elphinstone, who forwards it, says, that of an indepen- 
dent burgher, and may illustrate the feeling of those 
colonists who, while they had no confidence in the 
principles of the revolutionary party, despaired of the 
rule of the Orange officials at Capetown, and were not 
unwilling to welcome a change of flag, if it brought 
good government with it. 

This colony has for several years been on the decline, and 
rapidly approaching its annihilation. The intolerable shackles 
laid on trade, the monopoly, the paper currency, the stamp 
taxes of all description, and above all the Jacobin mania, are 
the chief causes ; and I venture to say that nothing less than a 
revolution could have saved it. . . . The population of the 
colony does not exceed 21,000 inhabitants, the land is barren, 
and the enemies with which the people are surrounded are 
numerous. Government has lost its respect, and such was the 
oppression of the inhabitants that every prospect of reconcilia- 
tion had vanished. It is now two months since Government 
sent a deputation to Graaff-Reinet — and that the Commissioners 
were obliged precipitately to leave the district, under the most 
imminent danger of losing their lives. Want of authority on 
the part of our Government is the chief reason that the Cape 
was so easily reduced. Everybody would command here, and 
nobody would obey. . . . The inhabitants are for the greater part 
impoverished ; this poverty has disposed them for disaffection 
and revolt, as appears again by the example of Graaff-Reinet. 

Mr. Kersteins then gives an account of the fiscal 
policy of the Dutch Company, from which one may 
infer two things at least : that the Company were in 


great straits for money, and considered their own 
needs more than those of the colonist ; and that the 
weakness of their authority made them rather afraid 
than otherwise to encourage and develop the re- 
sources of the cattle farmers. 

The Company, so far from encouraging the breed of cattle, 
seems to have been resolutely bent upon the extermination of 
them, and by every means to have sought to keep the inhabit- 
ants low. The mediocrity of our breed of horses is likewise to be 
attributed to the Company ; they have in no instance allowed 
the captains of our Indiamen to import stallions from Holland 
for the improvement of our horses. But monopolies are the 
grievance to which we must look for the principal cause of the 
misery of the inhabitants. The Company, in order to get its 
t)wn meat cheaper, has given to a Company, here called the 
Slaughter Company, the exclusive grant of selling meat to 
foreign ships. Now, admitting the common price to stand 
thus : 

A pound of meat 2 pence. 

A sheep 2 rix dollars. 

Abullock 8 „ 

Foreigners are obliged to pay the Slaughter Company : 

For a pound of meat 4 pence. 

A sheep 4^ rix dollars. 

A bullock 22 ,, 

From that circumstance foreigners have for some time left off 
frequenting this colony, the houses have fallen in price, one 
half of them are without tenants, and that class of the inhabit- 
ants who were used to subsist on a temporary small traffic with 
them are reduced to mendicity. 

.... By far the greater part of the farmers and of the 
inhabitants of the town are bankrupts, the rest have their 
property under sequester, and every individual looks forward 
to impending ruin. 



The kind of maladministration into which the 
Company was driven by its weakness and want of 
money is excellently illustrated by the method Mr. 
Kersteins states it adopted to secure payment of 
its taxes. The Slaughter Company was granted its 
monopoly on condition of deducting whatever was 
due by the farmers to the Government from its pay- 
ments to the farmers : 

The butchers send their servants into the interior parts of the 
country for buying cattle ; these pay the farmers with bills on 
their masters ; the farmer when he comes to town to receive 
his money obtains only part of it, as the butcher, in correspon- 
dence with the Company, deducts from the sum what he (the 
farmer) owes the latter. Thus it is no unusual thing for a 
farmer to make a two months' journey to town, in hopes to 
purchase necessaries for his wife and small family, to see his 
expectations baffled and himself obliged to return the same way 
home, both without money and necessaries. 

Mr. Kersteins then described the condition of the 
wheat and the wine trade under similar monopolies, 
after which he proceeds to another great grievance 
— the depreciation of the paper money and its unne- 
gotiable character under the security of a bankrupt 

During the last war, the Company being in want of money, 
they borrowed from the inhabitants the specie they had, upon 
promise to restore it to them by the first ships from Europe ; 
but no specie was sent, and paper was left to circulate. After 
some time, however, some silver specie made its appearance ; 
but it was broached on the inhabitants with an advance of 20 
per cent., which directly occasioned a loss on the property of 


every inhabitant of 20 per cent. ; meantime the foreign nations 
which were used to frequent our ports, and to sell us their 
commodities, finding that there was no money in the colony, 
withdrew, forgot their way hither, and the paper-money fell an 
additional 50 per cent. 

Mr. Kersteins concludes by a prophecy, which now 
that more than a hundred years have passed away, 
we ought to be in some position to judge ; but in 
judging we must clearly distinguish between the 
history of Cape Colony in general, and the history of 
the Boer of the Graaff-Reinet frontier, the Boer of 
the trek : 

Laws, founded and framed on justice, and promulgated as 
soon as possible, are what the people stand in need of. From 
the knowledge I have of the inhabitants, I will venture to 
prognosticate that if they can compass that essential point, they 
will look up to the English as their liberators, and strenuously 
adhere to their duty and obedience, &c. {Records, 1 793- 1796, 
p. 167.) 

The Cape Colony under Dutch rule was evidently 
a flagrant example of the ancien regime, under which 
the people were governed mainly in the interests of 
their governors. As a natural consequence, the new 
doctrines of the French Revolutionists which declared 
war on aristocracies and promised equal rights to all, 
found a ready welcome amongst a people dissatis- 
fied with the corruption and tyranny of the Orange 
bureaucracy that governed them. When the British 
fleet anchored in Simon's Bay, the great districts 

E 2 


of Swellendam and Graafif-Reinet were already in 
revolt, had hoisted the French tricolour, and set up 
a government of their own, which they called, in 
imitation of the French Revolutionists, a National 
Convention. And they could do this with perfect 
impunity, for the Dutch Government at the Cape 
had become so weak that it could no longer either 
assert its authority within the colony or defend it 
from attacks from without. Such was the disorganisa- 
tion with which the first British Governors, after the 
occupation in 1795, had to deal. 

The first representative of British authority in Cape 
Colony was General Craig, the commander of the 
forces which had occupied the -colony and were now- 
stationed there as a garrison. His experience had 
been only that of a soldier, and the economic and 
financial problems which surrounded him in his new 
position as the Governor of a colony were often per- 
plexing to him. He was, however, an able, prudent, 
and highly honourable man, just the kind of person 
required as interim Governor till the British Govern- 
ment had time to make itself acquainted with the 
situation and needs of the colony. His position 
being only a temporary one, his powers were 
restricted with regard to questions of commercial 
policy and legislation which the Home Government 
had not yet had time to consider. But he used his 
discretionary powers freely according to the tenor 


of the instructions he had received to reHeve the 
inhabitants from the more oppressive fiscal exactions 
and restrictions on trade ; and he met the temporary 
inconveniences caused by the change of government 
by a wise and indulgent use of permits. 

For his chief work, that of restoring orderly 
government in the colony and reducing the revolted 
districts to obedience, he was well fitted both by his 
qualities as a soldier and a character which was alike 
modest, firm and conscientious. In Capetown and 
the colony generally. General Craig encountered no 
great opposition to his authority. This was partly 
because the colonists were too widely scattered to 
have any effective means of organisation ; but partly 
also it was because the vast majority of the Boers 
were colonists of the third and fourth generation 
and too illiterate to feel any strong ties of senti- 
ment with a mother country which they had known 
chiefly through the unpopular government of the 
Dutch East India Company. With the exception 
of a small " Jacobin party," as the general called it^ 
which had caught the flame of the French Revolu- 
tion, the inhabitants were not so unfriendly to British 
rule as might have been expected. There was no 
difficulty at least in the administration of affairs. 
Both in Capetown and in the country districts, the 
general found the Dutch magistrates ready to co- 
operate with him ; and the correspondence between 


them, which appears in the Records, shows a wonder- 
ful degree of harmony in their relations, and even 
something like mutual confidence. 

One district only formed an exception, and seemed 
for a time to threaten serious trouble. This was the 
frontier district of Graaff-Reinet, which, before the 
arrival of the British forces, had revolted against the 
Company's rule and set up a government by " the 
Voice of the People," on the French model. The 
Cape Colony was at that time divided into four 
districts, each with its own body of magistrates and 
councillors ; that of Capetown, a comparatively 
small district, and three other very large districts, 
Stellenbosch to the north and west, Swellendam to 
the east, and, still . further east, and also stretching 
away northwards in the vicinity of what is now 
Colesberg, the district of Graaff-Reinet. It was this 
last district, and chiefly the distant frontier part of 
it, which made some show of holding out against the 
authority of the British general. 

Graaff-Reinet, and particularly the men of Bruint- 
jes Hoogte and the Zuurveld on the Kaffir frontier, 
had always been a source of trouble to the Dutch 
Governors. There, on the lands lying along the 
Little and Great Fish Rivers, which formed a 
natural, though ill-kept and partly disputed boundary 
between the colony and the territory of the Kosa- 
Kafifir tribes, dwelt a race of rough frontier farmers 


possessing large grazing farms, on which, with the 
aid of slaves and Hottentot servants, they reared 
great herds of cattle and sheep. The names of 
these men of Graaff-Reinet appear so frequently 
in the letters, reports, and judicial investigations 
of the period, that you get quite familiar with them, 
and can even here and there discern individual 
characteristics. Amongst those names the most 
frequent are those of Prinsloos, Burgers, Krugers, 
Jouberts, Erasmuses, Bothas, Smits, — all names, the 
reader will note, borne by the men who have been 
leading the Boers in their present conflict with the 

The district of Graaff-Reinet was then the great 
stock-breeding district of Cape Colony. Much of it 
was Karroo soil, but towards the eastern frontier it 
was a pleasant country, with plenty of grass and 
water. Sparrman found the inhabitants in easy cir- 
cumstances and rather envied by some of the corn- 
Boers as leading a kind of Arcadian life. The census 
of 1795 shows that the inhabitants possessed a much 
larger proportion of sheep and bullocks than the other 
districts, though perhaps not more than a fifth or sixth 
of what they really owned in this way ever appeared 
in the Returns. They alone could supply the quantities 
of cattle and sheep necessary for the support of Cape- 
town, with its citizens, garrison, and shipping. But 
the frontiersman in South Africa was just what he is 


in every country which borders on a wild, uncivilised 
population — a rough, self-reliant person, often taking 
the law into his own hands and not easily brought 
under the ordinary restraints of government. From 
his earliest days he was habituated to warfare and 
bloodshed. As an infant he had perhaps had to flee 
with his mother over the veldt from a plundering band 
of Bushmen, and even as a boy he learned to hunt the 
same unhappy race in the mountains. There were 
few frontier families who could not count relatives 
fallen in this savage warfare, and had not suffered from 
their stock being driven off by the natives. Of course 
these injuries were repaid with interest. Usually the 
plundered farmer called upon his neighbours to 
assemble and help him to retake the spoil ; and an 
expedition would go forth over the Nieuwveldt Moun- 
tains or the Fish River, and there would be shooting 
of Bushmen or Kaffirs, as the case might be, and raid- 
ing of kraals, and the farmers would return home as 
affluent in cattle, you may be sure, as they ever were, 
and perhaps a few serviceable slaves, women and chil- 
dren, would be added to the Boer household. Out of 
this practice the commando system arose, which for 
two hundred years has made every up-country Boer 
a trained warrior after his fashion. 

The faults were not all on one side. Between the 
colonists and the Bushmen, who were irreclaimable 
savages living on wild game and plunder, it was for 


long a war of extermination, no quarter given or 
expected on either side ; but with the Kaffirs, who 
were a high class of savages, the relations of the 
colonists were varying. They had some of them as 
farm servants, they had treaties and agreements with 
various powerful tribes living under their chiefs, they 
were sometimes at war and sometimes at peace with 
them. But, whether at war or at peace, there is no 
doubt the frontier colonist was a very aggressive 
neighbour. His wealth consisted in cattle and sheep, 
and his supply of money was got mainly from the 
amount of stock he could afford to sell to the Cape- 
town agents. No efforts of the Government could 
prevent many of the frontier colonists from entering 
the territory of the natives and pursuing an illicit 
trade in the purchase of cattle, a trade in which, says 
one Dutch magistrate, who evidently had great faith 
in the simplicity of the native, " the innocent Kaffir is 
always the loser." At any rate, from the earliest days 
the trade had been forbidden by the Dutch Governors 
because it invariably led to quarrels and bloodshed. 
Sometimes the colonist could persuade the native to 
sell his cattle for trifles, beads or buttons ; sometimes 
he enforced his bargains with his gun. It is evident 
also that the frontier farmers of the early days found 
advantages in a retaliatory raid. Some who had 
been plundered of their cattle came back as well off 
as ever, and some who had lost nothing gained by the 


division of the captured booty. The very first Kaffir 
war the Graaff-Reinet farmers had seems to have arisen 
out of this ilHcit trade. Marthinus Prinsloo, it is said, 
while engaged in it, shot one of the followers of the 
Kaffir chief Rarabe. The Kaffirs revenged themselves 
by a raid in which they drove off the farmers' herds. 
Commandos were assembled under Joshua Joubert and 
Adriaan van Jaarsveld for reprisals. Large numbers 
of Kaffir cattle were taken. Adriaan alone distri- 
buted over 5,000 amongst his ninety-two followers. 
These expeditions were sanguinary also, women and 
children were sometimes shot by the burghers as well 
as men, and they were often captured and distributed 
amongst the farmers. 

Another cause of warfare between the frontier Boer 
and the Kaffir lay in the impulse for expansion 
which no government, Dutch or English, could quite 
repress in the former. The frontier farmer was not an 
agriculturist, but a grazier. Possessing large flocks and 
herds, and inhabiting a soil somewhat scanty in grass, 
he required an immense extent of territory for his uses. 
His usual practice was when seeking, for one reason 
or another, a change of settlement, to wander into a 
new district and take up land to the extent of six 
thousand acres or more, or three miles on every side 
of the spot where he built his homestead. Having 
done so, he notified the Government, and as a matter 
of course was granted a right to the land as loan-land. 


on condition that he paid a yearly rent of 25 rix- 
dollars (about ;^5) to the Government. The grant was 
supposed to be from year to year, but about that 
condition the frontier farmer never troubled himself. 
A title was of small value in his eyes, and he was 
ready to change his ground on the least prospect of 
advantage. When his sons were old enough they 
could move further on and take up new lands for 
themselves. As their families were often large, and 
the size of their farms enormous, we can imagine what 
the rate of their expansion would be. With such a 
way of life, the land hunger of the Boer was unappeas- 
able, as it still is ; and one of the chief difficulties of 
the Cape Government in those days was to control 
this expansion, and to impress on the trekking Boer 
the necessity of some consideration for the native 
races which he dispossessed. All the more so that 
the Kaffir tribes with whom he came into contact on 
the eastern frontier were warlike and well organised 
under their chiefs, and he might easily involve the 
Government in a struggle which in these days was 
beyond its resources. 

It was not altogether a matter of sentiment that 
induced the Boers of Graafif-Reinet to hold out against 
the authority of the British Governor. In their eyes 
indeed the Orange bureaucracy at Capetown was 
almost as alien and unsympathetic a race as any 
British Government could be. The ideas that inspired 


them were rather of a practical kind. As an inde- 
pendent community they calculated on keeping all 
the advantages of Capetown as a market and port of 
supplies, while they did away with all the restraints 
and obligations which the Capetown authorities im- 
posed upon them in the interests of civilisation and 
the general welfare. Their pretensions are stated by 
Mr. Kersteins in the Report from which I have already 
quoted as follows : — " They refuse paying taxes ; they 
claim judiciary power with regard to the Hottentots 
in their service (' wallop your nigger as much as you 
like ') ; they proscribe the Moravians sent amongst 
them for the purpose of instructing the Hottentots in 
the Christian religion ; they claim the right of making 
prisoners of war their slaves and property." (^Records 
1793-96, p. 172.) 

Such was the ideal of a State which the frontier 
Boer in his rude simplicity had conceived ; and it seems 
to be doubtful if it has materially changed amongst 
his descendants. It was a return of the natural man 
to the fierce pagan civilisation of the early world. 

The Graaff-Reinet insurgents were aware that they 
had now a stronger Government to deal with at 
Capetown. But they lived far away on the frontier, 
where it would not be easy for the Government to 
reach them, and they thought they might make their 
own terms at little more cost than a formal profession 
of submission. They were rough and illiterate men, 


arrogant in their ignorance of the strength at the 
disposal of the new British Governor, and very much 
over-estimating their own. But, for all that, it would 
be a mistake to think of them as a stupid people. 
They knew nothing, it is true, of the moral traditions 
and conventions on which European civilisation has 
slowly built itself up. The story of Ruth or Joseph, 
the chronicles of the wars of Israel, were far more 
intelligible to them than any page in the history of 
modern Europe could be. But in matters which lay 
within their ken, the Boers of Graaff-Reinet were a 
shrewd people. Self-reliance and hard matter-of-fact 
calculation of their circumstances were necessities of 
their existence. Indeed, few nations have been more 
sternly trained in two arts which the world has always 
held in honour — the arts of war and diplomacy ; they 
were always at both, either fighting natives or diploma- 
tising with them, or with the authorities at Capetown. 
In the art of intriguing no gold-spectacled diplomatist 
in Europe had more practice than the Boers of the 
frontier ; and with all their illiteracy, and Landdrost 
Maynier declares even some of the commandants could 
not write or read with ease, Talleyrand himself could 
not have chosen his phrases more carefully with a 
view to future events, or mixed up points more adroitly 
than is done in their correspondence with the Govern- 
ment. In their first letter to General Craig (Oct. 25, 
1795) they show that they know perfectly how to 


cover audacious proposals under humble professions, 
how to probe the amount of resistance to be expected, 
and to leave themselves room either for an advance or 
a retreat. That letter, read in the light of the events 
which followed it, is so characteristic a specimen of 
Boer diplomacy that I give it here in a condensed 
form, adding some comments and elucidative notes 
in brackets : 

Honourable Sir, — 

The undersigned, fearing that the inhabitants of this 
district may perhaps be represented in a very bad light to your 
Excellency by the one or other revengeful servant of the 
Company, have thought proper to state their grievances to your 
Excellency. . . . That the inhabitants would rather never have 
meddled with any disturbance [someivhat eiiplieviistk phrase for 
rebellion and expulsion, of the Company's inagistrates'\ if the 
taxes were not become intolerable, and if we had been able to 
sufifer our country, which we love as ourselves {touch of poetry 
there, which may soften the heart of this new Governor\ to be 
reduced to a state of poverty, and to become the prey of the 
barbarous heathens. For twenty-six years we burghers have 
had to defend with our goods and our blood this district, which 
the Capetown and the navigation cannot dispense with [needed 
to supply meat for town and shipping, they meari\. That not- 
withstanding these services, the burghers have been from time 
to time more oppressed with taxes, while their principal pro- 
ducts have been farmed out [i.e., granted to individuals as 
monopolies'], and thereby kept at low prices, while the burghers 
have even been interdicted from selling their products to or 
purchasing anything from foreigners, and have received only 
paper money, which they cannot use to buy necessaries from 
Europe or elsewhere {ships calling at Capetown will not 
take such mo)iey\ a device for the Company to get all the specie 


into its treasury " in a subtle and deceitful manner." For these 
reasons we have dismissed the Honourable Company, with all 
its unlawful servants, and have resolved not to obey its law or 
pay it taxes or duties, as we judge it not legal to pay any taxes 
for lands and places which we have always been obliged to 
defend at our own expenses. [Ho7a does that doctrine about 
taxation and duties strike you, fieiv British Governor ? Nothing 
for nothing. If we need your markets, your lead and gun- 
powder, you need our cattle. And then the long-headed Boer 
puts forward some carefully chosen words of submission to 
authority^ But we have never thought that the said district 
\of Graaff-Reinet^ could be without any protector [ttote the 
word\ The burghers have never therefore opposed themselves 
against their High Mightinesses the States-General, nor against 
the Honourable Commissary Sluysken \^the last Dutch Governor^ 
nor against any who are not guilty of the destruction of the 
country ; and if we are defamed to the contrary, we declare, as 
the voice of the people {^new French watchword come into 
fashion at Graaff-Rcinet\ that it is not true, but false. \This is 
rather a refined distinction, and not altogether according to the 
facts. It was Commissary Sluysken's magistrates and special 
commissioners whom they had ignominiously expelled; his taxes 
they had refused to pay. But the burghers want to use their 
allegiance to Holland as a possible pretext against submission. 
Then follows a statement 0^ their doings with the local 
Government .•] 

It has been judged expedient by the general vote of the 
people to choose representatives of the burghers to sit with the 
War Officer and Heemraden \assessors or local councillors, 
burghers like themselves, but appointed by the Cape Govcrnment'\ . 
Further, it has been judged expedient to appoint the burgher 
Carel David Gerotz, in expectation of (your) approbation or 
until further orders, as provisional landdrost, and T. V. Oertel 
as provisional secretary, the discontent of the burghers being 
thereby changed into good order ; all which is now left to your 
Excellency's approbation. The undersigned request therefore 
very pressingly your Excellency will be pleased to appoint for our 


district, as soon as possible, proper magistrates, and to provide 
the said district with the necessary gunpowder and lead for the 
preservation of the same. YTJiat last is importaftf, to get a good 
supply of powder and lead from this English Governor ; for 
that they must make some 7nore or less formal and distinct 
recognition of his authority. About the next ^oiiit in their 
letter there is evidently a little delicacy. They are a pious people 
of the Dutch Reformed Church, and they require a parson. 
Their last one, Mr. Manger, had been with them since 1792, but 
decided to leave them when they expelled their magistrates and 
set up for themselves. Perhaps it should be stated that the 
parso7i in Cape Colofty was almost a State official, with a high 
official status, and paid by the Govermnent. The burghers state 
their case thus .■] The undersigned request your Excellency will 
also be pleased to provide our church, which is being con- 
structed and already half finished at the expense of the poor 
inhabitants, with a parson ; and as we know, yet choose to 
forbear speaking of, the reasons why our parson, in a subtle 
manner, is gone from us \yery suspicious people, the Graaff- 
Reineters, always apt to see subtlety in others'], notwithstanding 
we had assured him of his safety, we hope that he will repent of 
it and return again to his forsaken community. {An awkward 
business this : return of repentant prodigal father. The letter 
concludes with a cautiously worded professio?i of submission, or 
something which might be taken for such .•] 

We are still destitute of your Excellency's respected orders, 
which we expect in order to know how to behave ourselves in 
our present critical situation, whilst we have the honour most 
humbly to assure your Excellency that according to our oath 
and duty we will not fail — {^whatf] — to contribute to the 
preservation atid welfare of this country. We have been 
commanded by the general vote of the people to represent all 
the aforesaid to your Excellency, and expect a favourable 
answer, and after having recommended your Excellency to the 
protection of the Supreme Being, we have the honour to be, &c. 
\The signatures include those of C. D. Gerots, the provisiotial 
landdrost, Adriaan van faarsveld, J. Joubert and others.] 


That was the first communication which passed 
between the ancestors of the Transvaal Boer, the 
Krugers, Jouberts and Prinsloos of that time, and the 
representative of the British Government ; it was the 
beginning of a conflict which has lasted a hundred 
years, and in which I find the lineaments of the actors 
and the fundamental nature of the dispute have 
remained much the same. What was an average 
lionourable English gentleman like General Craig (for 
even Mr. Theal admits he was a just and honourable 
man) to make of that letter with its phrases of sub- 
mission, " we have appointed a landdrost in expecta- 
tion of your approbation or till further orders " — " all 
left to your Excellency's approbation " ? Would you 
not think that it meant the recognition of British 
authority ? Nothing of the kind ! Throughout their 
long letter they carefully avoid any formal expression 
of allegiance. Their idea is a kind of undefined 
overlordship or suzerainty under which the British 
Governor may confirm their appointments of magis- 
trates, and perhaps himself appoint them, though they 
hope he will confine himself to the former, but under 
which they will be allowed to do much as they like 
in their district, especially as regards the treatment 
of natives and the extension of settlements to the 
east of the Fish River ; on such terms they will 
recognise him as as their — Protector ! that is their 
cautiously chosen word, title invented for the 



situation : if his Excellency will be contented with 
that, and send them a good supply of powder and lead 
then he can construe this letter as he likes, and report 
that the Boers of Graaff-Reinet have submitted to his 

But General Craig failed to grasp the diplomatic 
character of the letter ; and probably setting down its 
ambiguities to the rustic simplicity of the farmers, 
received it as an acceptance of British authority. He 
replied in a very friendly strain, confirming their 
provisional appointment of a landdrost until Mr. 
Bresler, formerly an officer in the Dutch garrison, 
whom he had chosen for the post, should arrive. He 
tells them he has done away with the monopolies and 
restrictions of which they complain, and has made 
the coasting trade free, so that they can convey their 
produce to the capital " at a twentieth part of the 
expense and a tenth part of the time that has hitherto 
been required." He exhorts them to continue in the 
" sentiments of moderation and patriotism which so 
evidently appear to have dictated your letter " — " in 
the principles of religion and virtue ; due submission 
to the laws of that society in which Providence has 
placed us," &c., &c. For there is piety on both sides, 
each with its peculiar modifications. 

It was a great surprise, then, to the general when 
he heard what occurred on the arrival of Mr. Bresler, 
the landdrost whom he had appointed. That same 


day (22nd Feb., 1796) a meeting of the burghers was 
held at Graaff-Reinet village, during which amongst 
others the following persons were particularly active, 
Pieter Kruger, Jacobus Kruger, Jan Kruger, Schalk 
Burger, Adriaan van Jaarsveld, Jacobus Joubert, 
Marthinus Prinsloo. When Mr. Breslcr rang the bell 
and had the British flag hoisted in due form at 
the drostdy, Joubert and Jan Kruger hauled it down, 
and informed Mr. Bresler that they would not re- 
cognise his authority. There was nothing for Mr. 
Bresler to do but return. He had been successful 
in getting the parson of Graaff-Reinet, Mr. Manger, 
to accompany him, and the burghers made pro- 
posals to the latter to remain. But the parson 
declined them, and went off with the landdrost. 
From the reports I find that their proceedings had 
at times been tumultuous, and that Mr. Bresler 
thought himself in danger. They " passed the whole 
day and night (19th September) in the utmost 
licentiousness and riot," writes the latter. {^Records, 
1796-99, p. 392.) 

On hearing of these events. General Craig de- 
spatched a considerable force to establish the authority 
of the Government. But the news of its coming was 
enough, and before it could reach distant Graaff- 
Reinet, the majority of the burghers, seeing they 
had a strong and resolute Government to deal with, 
resolved to submit. The general at once recalled 

F 2 


the military ; and in return received a letter of the 
frankest submission, this time from the Graaff-Rein- 
eters, who declare themselves to be " faithful subjects " 
of his Majesty's Government. This letter was signed 
by provisional landdrost Gerotz and others in the 
name of the whole district. But it really represented 
the sentiments only of the moderate party there. 
The men of Bruintjes Hoogte and the Zuurveld, the 
Prinsloos, Krugers, Besters, and others, had a meeting 
of their own, and sent in a separate letter of sub- 
mission, which is cooler in the tone of its loyalty and 
shows a real or (as Mr. Bresler thinks) pretended 
anxiety about indemnities for the past and guaran- 
tees for the future, which is not a too hopeful augury. 
It is not unlikely that Woyer, the French emissary, 
who was busy amongst them in these insurrectionary 
movements, had been filling their heads with stories 
of press-gangs for the British navy, the aristocratic 
rigour of British law and discipline, and other things 
of that nature, to which their suspicious minds were 
but too ready to listen. There is something curious 
in the semi-legal, laboriously studied character of the 
language by which they seek to guard themselves 
against the fancied resentment of the Government, 
or, particularly, of the Cape Dutch officials. The 
main purport of the letter, however, is contained in 
its concluding part, in which the burghers ask leave 
', to make a retaliatory raid against the Kaffirs, and to 




occupy neiv lands beyond the Fish River, the boundary 
Between the Colony and the Kaffir tribes : — 

We request your Excellency will be pleased ... to enable 
us to go and fetch back such cattle belonging to the aforesaid 
poor inhabitants as is still in the Kaffir country, in order to 
restore the same to the lawful owners. 

And we further beg leave most humbly to request your 
Excellency will be pleased to allow us to occupy another tract 
of land, situated on the other side of the Great Fish River 
unto the Koonab (or, if it could be, unto the Kat River), m 
order that not only those who dwell too near each other may 
thereby be enabled to enlarge their business of breeding cattle, 
but also those who have not yet got any place, and who are 
still obliged to dwell with others, may likewise thereby be 
enabled to obtain one, and thus to forward their business. 

There were other requests also for a landdrost in 
sympathy with their views, and not Mr. Bresler, and 
for the appointment of Heemraden from a list 
chosen by themselves — requests reasonable enough 
in ordinary times and settled districts, but hardly 
expedient to grant in the present condition of 

Their letter was handed by General Craig to 
Mr. Bresler, whose comments on it are given in a 
long letter to the general. {Records, 1793-6, p. 497.) 
The sum of his criticism is this, that the magistrates 
who conducted the retaliatory expedition against the 
Kaffirs in 1793 could get no accurate account at the 
time from the burghers of their losses, only a 
general statement that the number of cattle taken 


from them collectively was 65,357 ; while the 
census returns given in by the same burghers for 
that year gave the number of cattle they possessed 
as 8,004. Mr. Bresler considers their compensation 
was fairly adequate, that there is plenty of un- 
occupied land in the Zuurveld, and that their desire 
for the Kat River territory simply means a desire to 
get far enough from the magistrate's supervision) 
to raid the Kaffirs and carry on an illicit trade. 

In his reply General Craig assured the burghers 
of complete indemnity for the past, suspended the 
collection of arrears of rent (eventually they were 
acquitted of them), but emphatically forbade any 
thoughts of a raid on the Kaffirs or of occupying 
the territory on the other side of the Great Fish 
River. " With what face," he writes, " can you ask 
of me to allow you to occupy lands which belong 
to other people ? what right can I have to give you 
the property of others? and what blessing or pro- 
tection could I expect from God were I to cause 
or even to encourage such a gross and glaring act of 
injustice ? Should I not, in every view of morality 
and religion, be responsible for every life that 
would be lost in such a contest, &c., &c. ? " Since 
the boundary line between the colony and the Kaffirs 
had been fixed in 1780 at the Great Fish Riven 
General Craig was no doubt right in refusing the 
farmers' request to be allowed to occupy the lands at 


the Koonab and Kat Rivers, a rich and beautiful 
tract, afterwards the subject of much dispute ; it 
would have brought him into collision with the great 
Kaffir tribe under Gaika, whose authority extended 
over this region. But the men of Bruintjes Hoogte 
would hardly appreciate either his delicacy or his 
policy. The district itself was at this time sparsely 
inhabited, and Gaika himself had no very ancient rights 
in it. However, the matter ended here for the time, 
especially as all hopes of a successful insurrection dis- 
appeared soon after with the capture of the Haasj'e, a 
vessel loaded with guns and ammunition which the 
revolutionary agent, Woyer, had persuaded the Dutch 
Governor at Batavia to send to the burghers of Graaff- 

We see then the administrative and political 
problems the British Government had fallen heir to 
in Cape Colony. The difficulty lay nearly all in 
one region, the eastern frontier of the colony at the 
Fish River. Up to 1770 the advance of the colonists 
eastward along the coast had been easy amidst thinly 
scattered and decaying clans of the Hottentots ; but 
at the Fish River they encountered a formidable 
barrier in the shape of the great Kaffir race, them- 
selves advancing from the east, and the question of 
expansion became one which meant fierce warfare 
with powerful tribes, and included questions of 
morality and jurisprudence, all the graver that the 


Kaffirs were a highly organised race, living under 
tribal government and a well established system 
of laws. 

The difficulty was increased for the British Govern- 
ment by the intractable nature of the frontier Boer. 
Long contact with the native races had made him 
suspicious and somewhat treacherous. Laws and 
taxes seemed to him only so many subtle devices for 
overreaching him ; and as he was accustomed on his 
solitary farm to be a law to himself in all that he did 
he could hardly be brought to submit to the law of 
the State when that did not agree with his own 
notions of things. 

With the arrival of Lord Macartney in May 1797, 
General Craig's provisional governorship came to an 
end. The general had had some hopes indeed of 
obtaining himself the official position of Governor, 
the duties of which, especially the peaceful adminis- 
trative ones, he thinks would be congenial to him ; 
" the country is so open to improvement " (he writes to 
Secretary Dundas), " that it would furnish in time of 
peace exactly that species of employment which is, 
of all others, the most congenial to my mind." It is 
good, he thinks, after years of war and arms, to spend 
one's sober years in works of peace and progress, and 
he learns with regret that it is the decision of his 
Majesty's Ministers to send out a Civil Governor, 
" which puts an end to every hope I had formed." He 


departed with the esteem, as Dr. Thcal admits, of the 
colonists, and received due honours from the Govern- 
ment, being made a Knight of the Bath, with a high 
appointment on the Bengal Staff. In after years his 
ambition to devote himself to peaceful arts and the 
business of colonial administration was gratified by 
his being sent out as Governor to Canada. Perhaps 
when there he often looked back with regret to the 
peaceful life of a Lieutenant-General. 


The Bushman Race — The Racial Conflict on the Northern 
Frontier — Van Jaarsveld's Commando at the Zeekoe River. 

^ It was not only on the eastern frontier that a 
savage warfare existed between the Boers and the 
'' natives. A still more relentless struggle had been 
going on for years along the northern boundary of 
the colony, from the Roggeveld ranges to the moun- 
^ tains of Sneeuwberg and Tarka. A pigmy race of 
savages, called by the Dutch colonists Bosjesmans or 
Bushmen, lived in those parts, wandering in loose 
bands over the desert, or occupying caverns in the 
mountains north of the Sneeuwberg. They had some 
points of resemblance to the Hottentots, but were of a 
lower race, with a tendency to deformities of person, 
which may have been due to the extreme wretched- 
ness of their condition, living as they did in crannies 
of the rocks or crouching naked, as Thompson saw 
them, under thorn-bushes for shelter against the night 
winds. They were a feeble race physically, their 
chief weapon a diminutive arrow, poisoned at the tip, 


but they were active and tireless of foot, and had 
more than the usual dexterity of the savage in con- 
cealing their advance or retreat. To get at them at 
all the Boer commandos had to take them either by 
surprise or treachery. Their subsistence was pre- 
carious even for savages ; at times they managed to kill 
wild game when that was abundant, and then there was 
a feast from which they never rose till their stomachs 
became grotesque protuberances on their emaciated 

(figures ; but most of the time they had nothing to 
eat but wild roots, locusts and the larvre of insects. 
— . Pringle, Philip and others assert that this miserable 
race was at one time a pastoral people, living in com- 
^9 parative ease at least on the produce of their flocks 
and herds.^ But as the Dutch colonists increased in 
number and spread over the interior, this feeble race, 
without any tribal organisation, was gradually driven 
from its pasture grounds where subsistence was easy, 
to the desert and the mountains. There the Bush- 
man was forced to dig roots for a subsistence, and 
when that failed him to steal sheep and cattle from 
the Boer. There were numbers of tame Bushmen, 
however, as they were called, who accepted service 
u'ith the farmer and looked after his herds, in 
return for their food and a little tobacco. In 1775 
the Swedish naturalist, Sparrman, saw many of them 
living thus, contentedly enough, amongst the farmers 
^ Philip's Researches in South Africa^ vol. ii. p. 2. 


of the Lange Kloof district. He states that it was a 
common thing then for the Boers to make up a party 
for the capture of Bushmen to serve on their farms/ 
and a Hottentot whom he met in the same district 
had three Bushwomen and their children in his 
custody whom he was taking " home to his master 
for slaves." In the north-eastern parts, particularly 
about Camdeboo and the Sneeuwberg, the mountain 
Bushmen, who had the worst character as plunderers, 
were pursued and exterminated, Sparrman says, like 
wild beasts.^ 

It seems to be clear that about the year 1770 this 
warfare between the Boers and the Bushmen had 
assumed larger dimensions and a more relentless 
character. Before that time, according to both 
Barrow and Thompson, the Bushmen were ac- 
customed to come openly into the colony begging, 
sometimes pilfering, but " they never attempted the life 
of any one." But in the year mentioned the Dutch 
Government seems to have made up its mind for a 
decided policy of aggressive defence, or, some might 
call it, expansion on the northern frontier. A com- 
mandant-general was appointed for the border ; a 
great commando took the field in three divisions, the 
whole country along the great northern ranges was 
scoured, and the reports given in by the commander 

1 Sparrman, Vo_ya£-e to the Cape of Good Hope, vol. i. p. 202. 

2 Idem, p. 198, 


Stated that five hundred Bushmen were shot and 
over two hundred made prisoners, the latter no 
doubt mostly women and children, who were. Dr. 
Theal says, " apprenticed to the farmers for a term 
of years." One European was shot during the 

It was this custom of carrying their wives and 
children into captivity, Barrow says, " which rankled 
most in the breasts of the Bushmen and excited them 
to fierce retaliations on the Boer farmers and the 
Hottentots who served them as scouts." One can see, 
too, that the custom was a great temptation to the 
farmers, especially in later years, when slaves 
ceased to be imported and the supply of Hottentot 
herdsmen grew scarce. The Bushman with his 
slender arrow could do little against the mounted 
Boer and his great roer in the open field, but his 
stealthy approach might take a single victim un- 
awares. In the more remote and exposed districts of 
the Sneeuwberg and Tarka the farmer could hardly 
gather a few vegetables in his garden or venture five 
hundred yards from his house without his gun. 

On the other side commandos became frequent 
and sanguinary, and the names of the veld-com- 
mandants on the northern border. Van der Walt, 
Van Jaarsvcld, Nel and Van Wyck would be famous 
in the annals of this savage warfare, if any one, even 
Dr. Theal, cared to record its details. It was, of 


course, man-hunting rather than fighting. Here is 
one day's work out of a hundred such in those 
years, that of an expedition to the Zeekoe River 
(near modern Colesberg) in 1775 under Van Jaars- 
veld, extracted from his own report to the Landdrost 
of Stellenbosch : — 

August loth. — Proceeded from Blauwe-Bank along the river 
about two hours, with the whole commando, to a place called by 
us Keerom, whence, the manners of the natives being known to 
me by experience, I despatched the same evening some spies to 
Blauwe-Bank to learn whether the Bushmen were not with the 
sea-cows \ui/iich the Boers had shot and left to entice the Bush- 
men^ ; for they will always assemble in the night where they 
know something is to be had. 

About midnight the spies returned, saying they had seen a 
great number of Bushmen there, when I immediately repaired 
thither with the commando, waiting till day-break, which soon 
appeared ; and having divided the commando into parties, we 
slew the thieves {l-^an Jaarsveld uses the term here quite 
generically as a synonym for Bushmen\ and on searching, 
found one hundred and twenty-two dead ; five escaped by 
swimming across the river. 

After counting the slain, we examined their goods, to see 
whether a7iything could be found whereby it might be ascer- 
tained that they were plunderers ; when ox-hides and horns 
were found, which they were carrying with them for daily use. 

Pages of such reports might be quoted, but that 
one, as it stands, is perfect and convincing as to the 
character of this warfare with the Bushmen. Indeed 
the Boer, even when he was in other respects a just 
and excellent man, could see no more harm in 
shooting Bushmen than if they were so many rabbits. 



A few days before Barrow set out from Capetown on 
his journey to the interior a Boer who had just come 
in from Graaf-Reinet called at the secretary's office. 
He was asked if he had found the savages numerous 
or troublesome on the road, and " replied /le had only 
shot four, with as much composure and indifference 
as if he had been speaking of four partridges." 

Up to the time of the British occupation in 1795 
commandos were frequently out against the Bush- 
men, and whole kraals of them were exterminated.^ 
Nevertheless at this period the Boers were not able 
to crush the Bushmen entirely. On the approach 
of a commando they generally managed, if not taken 
by surprise, to retire to inaccessible deserts or moun- 
tain passes where the Boers could not always get 
at them ; and in the north-eastern corner of the 
colony they were able at this time to hold their 
ground and even forced the farmers to withdraw 
frcm the lands they occupied north of the Zeekoe 
River, and from parts of the Sneeuwberg and Tarka. 
It is at this period that Pringle's Song of the Wild 
Bushman may have its modicum of truth, after 
removing the fine varnish of the Campbell style : — 

The countless springboks are my flock, 

Spread o'er the unbounded plain ; 
The buffalo bendeth to my yoke, 

The wild-horse to my rein. 

' Sec list of commandos, Philip's RcscarcJics, vol. i. ]ip. 43-53. 


My yoke is the quivering assegai, 
My rein the tough bow-string ; 

My bridle-curb is a slender barb, 
Yet it quells the forest king. 

Thus I am lord of the Desert Land, 

And I will not leave my bounds, 
To crouch beneath the Christian's hands, 

And kennel with his hounds : 
To be a hound and watch the flocks. 

For the cruel White Man's gain. 
No ! the brown Serpent of the Rocks 

His den doth yet retain ; 
And none who there his sting provokes. 

Shall find its poison vain ! 

The Bushmen, wretched as their condition was, 
seem to have had faculties not incapable of cultiva- 
tion, and in the matter of artistic talent at least they 
stood higher than any of the races around them. The 
sides of the caverns where they lived were frequently 
scrawled over with drawings of antelopes, ostriches, 
baboons, and other animals, which Barrow and other 
travellers consider were executed with much spirit 
and a true perception of what was characteristic in 
the object. Thompson also notes their talent for 
mimicry and readiness to take off in this way any- 
thing ludicrous they saw in the attitudes of the Boers 
or of English soldiers. The Boer thought the Bush- 
man little better than the baboon, but perhaps the 
latter took his revenge in some Aristophanic click- 


clacking in the caves above Tarka. The Httle 
savages were surprisingly cheerful in their wretched- 
ness, and would often dance the whole night long 
in the moonlight to the sound of their raviaakie 
or guitar. 

Robert Moffat, the missionary, who knew the race 
well and gives a very complete and candid account of 
them in Labours and Scenes in Southern Africa 
(pp. 46-54), says of them that " degraded as they 
really are, they can be kind and hospitable too ; 
faithful to their charge, grateful for favours, and 
susceptible of kindness." .... " It is also habitual 
with them," he adds, " on receiving the smallest 
portion of food, to divide it with their friends .... 
and a hungry mother will not unfrequently give 
what she may receive to her emaciated children, 
without tasting it herself" 

But few virtues could be expected of a people who 
were hunted and tracked like wild beasts to their 
lairs, and who mostly hid in their caverns by day, 
issuing only at night in search of something to eat. 
Unless a Bushman w^ere caught young it was rarely 
that much could be done with him. The labours of 
the first missionary amongst them, Mr. Kicherer, seem 
to have had very little result, and those of the philan- 
thropic Boers, Vischcr and Botma, who tried to con- 
tinue his work, less still. But the missions established 



amongst them some years afterwards at Troverberg 
and Hephzibah were more successful according to the 
well-known report of the Rev. A. Faure of Graafif- 
Reinet, which is quoted in most of the missionary- 
literature of that period.^ 

1 See Moffat's Labours, already quoted, p. 51. Also Thomp- 
son's Travels, vol. i., p. 4o5- 


Lord Macartney's Administration — Reforms and Progress 
under British Rule — The " Jacobin Party " at the Cape 
— Sir George Yonge. 

Lord Macartney, the first titular Governor at the 
Cape, brought out with him the final instructions of 
the British Government for the administration of the 
colony. He was a high-spirited and courteous Irish- 
man, with a pride that was almost vanity in the purity 
and rectitude of his conduct in high offices. But he 
was a man of great ability and large experience in 
the higher departments of administration. It was 
for these reasons no doubt that the veteran proconsul, 
now well on in years, was specially chosen by the 
Home Government to define and carry out its economic 
and financial policy in South Africa. His instructions 
are contained in a lengthy document given in the 
Records, and are worth reading as a proof of the very 
liberal spirit in which the British Government meant 
to deal with its new possession. In particular, it is 
prescribed to Lord Macartney, " that you do, without 

G Z 


delay, afford our subjects at the said settlement such 
relief from the fiscal oppressions under which they 
now labour, as you shall judge expedient, and par- 
ticularly by abolishing monopolies, pre-emptions, and 
exclusive privileges, and prohibitions and restraints to 
the free exercise of their industry, either in agriculture, 
manufactures, or other pursuits of interior commerce." 
{^Records, 1796- 1799, p. i.) 

In conformity with these instructions, the old mon- 
opolies and restrictions on trade, the exorbitant taxes 
imposed for the privilege of selling any kind of pro- 
vision to the shipping were finally abolished, and in- 
ternal trade and coasting became practically free. 
Goods from any part of the British dominions might 
be imported free of duty in British ships.^ All vessels 
of friendly Powers were allowed to trade with the 
Cape on paying a duty of five per cent, on the British 
goods they brought, and ten per cent, on foreign 
goods. The trade to the East of the Cape, however, 
was allowed to be carried on only by the ships 
of the East India Company, or ships which had 
received their license. And in the matter of internal 
trade, the Governor was obliged to do what had 
always been done, to fix a price (always a fair one) on 
the produce required for his large garrison, otherwise 
with a limited supply, and no resources nearer than 

1 This permission, allowing a freedom of trade most unusual 
at that time, was in 1802 restricted to British ports. 


India and England, he would have been at the mercy 
of speculators. But all this represented very liberal 
ideas of trade for that time, and was a great improve- 
ment on the times when the interior and the foreign 
trade alike were under heavy restrictions, and carried 
on only by special privilege or connivance. 

As a consequence of these reforms the returns 
exhibit a great growth of commerce at this period, 
although the exports bear an unusually small propor- 
tion to the imports on account of the peculiar cir- 
cumstances of the colony, nearly all its produce being 
absorbed by the Capetown market in the way of 
supplies to the garrison and shipping. The addi- 
tional taxes had been imposed, yet the revenue, 
which in the last year of the Dutch government had 
been about ^20,000, rose in 1 797 to ;^40,000, and in 
1798 to over ;^6o,000. In 1801 it had risen to 
;{^90,000. The foreign shipping calling at the Cape, 
mainly American, Danish and Portuguese, with a 
few Swedish and Prussian vessels, being allowed to 
trade as freely as British ships, and there being now 
no monopoly in the sale of provisions, this traffic, 
which had almost died away latterly under Dutch 
rule, became a great source of profit to the colonists, 
(See Barrow, vol. ii, p. 183.) During the same period 
I find from a list of prices in the Recoi'ds that the 
value of the farmer's produce, his corn, mutton, beef, 
butter, &c., had doubled, while the price of the 


imports he was most in need of, such as tea, coffee, 
sugar, cottons, &c., was much cheaper owing to the 
increased facilities of trade.^ The matter of the 
rent due by the farmers to the State was also 
settled by Lord Macartney in a liberal way, by a 
proclamation which acquitted the farmers of the most 
distressed districts of all arrears of rent, in many 
cases also allowing them to stand rent free for the 
next six years, and in some lowering the rents to 
half (See Lord Macartney's instructions to the land- 
drost of Graaff-Reinet ; Records, 1 796-1 799, p. 95.) 

In the Civil Service the changes made were of a 
kind which tended to promote purity and a higher 
sense of responsibility amongst the officials, without 
giving offence to Dutch susceptibilities by any great 
change of forms. The Dutch Judicature and Magis- 
tracy were continued much on the old lines, and in 
the hands of the same officials ; but the members of 
the Court of Justice, most of whom had been paid by 
the objectionable practice of bestowing on them other 
lucrative employments, or privileges, or the reversion 
of such (see Records, 1796- 1799, p. 134; also 1793- 
1796, p. 280), were now put on a system of fixed 
salaries. The practice of torturing slaves and natives, 
on suspicion of crime, and the infliction of barbarous 
forms of the death penalty were abolished, not without 
some grumbling on the part of the Burgher Senate, 
^ Recofds, 1793-6, p. 238. 


who quoted Dutch and Roman law in support of the 

But a bare enumeration of official changes repre- 
sents but poorly the impression one gets from, these 
records of a good government, of a governor who was 
anxious to understand the needs of the colony and 
to do his best for it, and whose pride was to identify 
British rule with a pure and intelligent administration. 
The streets, the wharf and the fortifications, all of 
which had been somewhat neglected, were now put 
into good repair. New water conduits were made 
for the supply of Capetown, and the pass at Hotten- 
tot's Holland, the great route to the eastern parts of 
the colony, was put into shape, the first of several 
great undertakings of the kind, by a corps of engin- 
eers. A scientific agriculturist, Mr.- Duckett, was 
also brought out from England to teach the farmers 
better methods, and the use of more modern imple- 
ments, though the Boers, a most conservative race, 
would for long have nothing to do with him and his 
implements. In every department, indeed, the pains- 
taking hand of the new government was felt. To 
me it seems that English energy and honesty, the 
steady English sense of justice which demands a 
firm but not a rigorous, and especially not a vengeful 
administration of the law, are just as conspicuous 
in these early records as they can be to-day in India 
or Egypt. 


It was not wholly, I think, the language of official 
compliment when the whole of the Dutch officials at 
the Cape, the wardens of the Reformed and Lutheran 
Churches, the members of the Burgher Council, and 
other bodies declared in a congratulatory address to 
George III. in 1800, that the inhabitants of the colony 
had, under British rule, " enjoyed the most perfect 
tranquillity and happiness," and were " daily increas- 
ing in prosperity" {Records, 1 799-1 801, p. 296). That 
appears to be a fair representation of public opinion 
except at the disturbed eastern portion of the 
frontier, amongst the farmers of Bruintjes Hoogte 
and the Zuurveld. 

But the reader who expects to find any direct 
recognition of these improvements in the pages of 
the official historian of South Africa will be disap- 
pointed. In his review of the administration of Lord 
Macartney, Dr. Theal is not only silent about such 
general matters as the greater security and increased 
value of property (except, of course, on the disturbed 
frontier part), and the larger and freer market pro- 
vided under British rule, he omits all reference to the 
removal of trade restrictions, oppressive taxes and 
corrupt methods of levying them, as if all that 
which was finally carried out or confirmed by Lord 
Macartney need not appear in the implied com- 
parison he is there making between British and 
Dutch rule. 


Here is his statement of the case : 

The free trade promised in 1795 'i^so came to an end.^ 
Commerce with places to the east of the Cape of Good Hope 
was restricted to the English East India Company, and heavy 
duties were placed upon goods from the westward brought in 
any but English ships. British goods brought from British 
ports in British ships were admitted free of duty. The Govern- 
ment resumed the power to put its own prices upon farm 
produce, and to compel delivery at these rates for all that was 
needed for the garrison and ships of war frequenting Simon's 
Bay. The prices fixed, however, were fair and reasonable, 
and the burghers did not object to sell at such rates, though 
among themselves they spoke very bitterly of the arbitrary 
rule to which they were subjected. {The Story of the Nations : 
South Africa, p. 120.) 

I do not think that that paragraph could leave the 
ordinary reader with any other impression than that 
there had been little or no improvement in the ad- 
ministration of trade under British rule, and that 
there was even something unusually arbitrary in that 
administration, w^hich caused discontent among the 

It is true that in other parts of his work Dr. Theal 
has dropped sentences here and there, in one place 
about the very bad system of taxation under the 
Dutch Company, in another about its pernicious 
effect upon the people, but he carefully avoids 
bringing things together for a comparison, and is 
thus able in his final summary, as we see, to leave 

^ Only free internal trade had been promised by Generals 
Clarke and Craig. 


the reader with tlie impression that there was no 
benefit whatever, moral or economic, to the colonists 
in the change from Dutch to British rule.^ 

There is also at times the characteristic vice of the 
economist in Dr. Theal's reasoning. Because Lord 
Macartney had not at his side a superior council of 
Regency (which had always consisted in any case of 
Company's officials under the Governor's control),^ 
therefore his rule must have been more arbitrary 
than that of a Wilhelm Adriaan van der Stel, or a 
Cornelius van de Graaff, or those Dutch commis- 
sioners who imposed the obnoxious tax on auction 
accounts. This kind of error is not at all natural, 
however, to Dr. Theal, who knows very well, one 
can see, how things really worked in the concrete, 
did he care to state all he knows. From the 
Records, one might certainly infer that the new 
Burgher Senate under British rule was as strong a 
representation of public opinion as anything that 
existed under the Dutch governors. 

Dr. Theal's indictment (it is hardly less than that) 
of Lord Macartney's rule on its political side is even 
harsher : 

His administration was free of the slightest taint of corrup- 
tion, but it was conducted on very strict lines. (The larger 
history reads " on the strictest party lines.") Those colonists 

^ See Appendix B for Dr. Theal's latest version. 

2 See Van Ryneveld's Report, Records, 1 793- 1796, p. 243. 


who professed to be attached to Great Britain were treated 
with favour, while those who preferred a republic to a monarchy 
were obliged to conceal their opinions or they were promptly 
treated as guilty of sedition. There never was a period in the 
history of the country when there was less freedom of speech 
than at this time. All the important offices were given to men 
who could not speak the Dutch language, and who drew such 
large salaries from the colonial treasury that there was little 
left for other purposes. An oath of allegiance to the king of 
England was demanded from all the burghers. Many objected, 
and a few did not appear when summoned to take it. The 
Governor was firm, dragoons were quartered upon several of 
those- who were reluctant, and others were banished from the 

All that sounds very formidable. Such sentences 
as " there never was a period in the history of the 
colony when there was less freedom of speech than 
at this time," uttered by a responsible historian, seem 
decisive. But every government must be tried by 
the standard and the circumstances of its own time ; 
and the load of obloquy which that sentence seems 
to throw on Lord Macartney's rule is at once 
materially lightened by the mere consideration that 
in 1798 the very same thing might be said, with even 
more emphasis, alike of France and Holland under 
their republican governments and of England under 
its monarchy, and indeed of every country where 
the great contest with the revolutionary ideals of 
the French democracy had arisen. Where the 
government, as in England, represented the moder- 
ate traditions of constitutionalism, the ultra-radicals 


were regarded as Jacobins, and their liberty of 
action and speech curtailed as dangerous to the 
State. Where the government, as in France and 
Holland, represented the new democratic ideals, the 
moderate and conservative parties were regarded as 
dangerous reactionaries and their liberty of speech 
and action suppressed. 

As I have already said, the doctrines of the new 
French democracy, and their watchwords of liberty, 
fraternity and equality, had found considerable 
response amongst the colonists. In Capetown, as 
well as in the outlying districts, there was what the 
English governors called a Jacobin party, and there 
is evidence in the Records that active intriguing was 
carried on between that party and the agents of the 
French Republic. Two attempts indeed were made 
by French ships to land stores of war and volunteers 
in remote eastern parts of the colony. It never 
came to much, and ultimately, as in most other 
countries, when the democratic ideals of France 
developed into the oppressive autocracy of Napoleon, 
died a natural death. Yet at the time it naturally 
enough alarmed the British governors and occasioned 
some slight repressive measures on the part of Lord 
Macartney ; one notorious agitator, who refused to 
take the oath of allegiance, was sent out of the coun- 
try, a measure which the Dutch governors had been 
accustomed to use freely on less provocation. The 


particular case, however, which Dr. Theal gives as an 
example of Lord Macartney's severity, is that of Mr. 
Eksteen, a citizen of Capetown. Mr. Eksteen, it 
seems, issued cards of invitation for his daughter's 
marriage, which, instead of having the usual super- 
scription " Mr." were addressed " Citoyen," in Revo- 
lutionary style. Lord Macartney simply called upon 
him to apologise and give bonds for good behaviour. 
It was a small matter, no doubt, but feeling ran high 
in those days, and the use of the word " Citoyen " 
meant, of course, a profession of the new democratic 
principles, and was designed to be offensive to the 
authorities. But the offender suffered no personal 
injury, and in the France of the same period, or at 
Batavia, under some Van Imhoff, a similar challenge 
to the authorities might have cost the offending 
individual his life or his liberty. Here, as elsewhere, 
Dr. Theal's indictment of British rule in South Africa 
is open to the charge that it takes no note of the 
circumstances of the time, but criticises by a standard 
of our own day, which even yet is applicable only 
to British rule and British ideas of justice in the 
case of colonies and dependencies. 

Dr. Theal makes much also of the number of 
Englishmen in the Civil Service, and the salaries 
paid them. Besides the Lieutenant-Governor, who 
was also the commander of the forces. Lord Macart- 
ney had ten Englishmen in the Civil Service drawing 


salaries which amounted altogether to about ;^ii,ooo. 
The heaviest item was the salary of Lord Macartney 
himself, who, as an old and experienced pro-consul, 
received ;!^i 2,000, including table-money. It was 
about double what the Dutch governors had re- 
ceived. But they had had large perquisites, farms 
and country houses being kept up for them by 
the Company, sometimes unwittingly, it is true, 
and their household expenses, including servants 
and horses, paid. Like the other officials too, their 
salaries were partly paid by allowing them to collect 
certain taxes or fees, so that I suspect the Eng- 
lish governor's establishment did not really cost the 
colony much more, while the revenue under Lord 
Macartney being double what it had been under 
the old Dutch Company, was better able to 
bear it.^ 

Lord Macartney had been sent out as one of the 
most experienced of Britain's high officials to put 
the affairs of the colony on their new basis. Having 
performed his work and finding the climate of Africa 
trying to a constitution somewhat weakened by years 
and disease, he resigned his appointment and left the 
colony in November, 1798. 

1 Captain Percival states positively, and gives figures to show, 
that the Dutch establishment was greater in numbers than the 
English one, and more costly when all was told. See his book, 
Account of the Cape of Good Hope, p. 325. See also on thi§ 
point Wilberforce Bird, p. 141. 


Unfortunately, the British Government was not so 
happy in the choice of a successor. The lot fell on 
Sir George Yonge, whose record, while it may not be 
quite so bad as Dr. Theal makes out, is certainly far 
from clear. He is decidedly the black sheep in the 
list of the British Governors of Cape Colony. Sir 
George was a high-going, magnificent, free-handed 
sort of man, always ready to enter upon extensive 
improvements, new barracks, great experimental 
farms, a fine botanic garden, fountains and fish-ponds 
for Government House, and such like things. He 
spent his table allowance also, freely, and gave the 
first public ball at Capetown, 350 guests, and 
dancing till four in the morning. " I found it gave 
general satisfaction," he reports to the Home authori- 
ties. So being in want of money, he imposed, con- 
trary to the articles of capitulation, some new taxes 
on grain and timber, new licenses on game and 
billiard-tables, which were naturally considered as 
grievances by the inhabitants. In a rash way also 
he granted contracts for supplying the government 
with cattle and for cutting timber under conditions 
which virtually made them monopolies. He ap- 
pointed new commissioners for the supervision of the 
government woodlands, tasters of wine and brandy, 
&c. In most of these things his intentions seem to 
have been good, to prevent, namely, the Government 
from being imposed upon by a combination of cattle- 


breeders, to encourage Mr. Duckett, the scientific 
farmer whom the British Government had sent out 
for the improvement of Cape agriculture, to secure a 
decent quahty of wine fqr the troops and so forth. 
On the whole the report of the commission appointed 
to inquire into his doings acquits him of any personal 
share in corruption. 

But certain members of his family, who occu- 
pied confidential posts at Government House, made 
a bad use of their position to secure for them- 
selves some of these new offices and to further 
applications for concessions and contracts on the 
understanding that they should receive a percentage 
of the profits. Sir George seems to have placed 
too much faith in their representations, and lent 
himself in a careless way at least to their schemes ; 
a rash, free-handed, profuse man, and too indulgent 
to his friends, but not himself corrupt or a profit- 
seeker. He writes to Lord Hobart that he returns 
from the colony a much poorer man than he came 
to it. Dr. Theal compares his rule to the worst days 
of Van de Graafif and the Dutch governors ; but the 
Records show that within the administration itself, 
in the persons of the English officials and the naval 
captains on the station, there existed a decided check 
on anything like open corruption (see the case of 
Mr. Jessup, chief-searcher of customs, Records, 1799- 
180 1, page 161). Sir George was recalled, not slowly 


nor with high honours Hke Governor Van de GraafF, 
but in disgrace, on the first hint the Home Govern- 
ment received of maladministration. Readers will 
find the extent of his delinquencies impartially- 
stated by the Commission of Inquiry, Records, 
March i6, 1802. 



Adriaan Van Jaarsveld's Insurrection The Kaffir Raids of 
1799— The Government's Border Policy — Bruintjes Hoogte 
revolts again — General Dundas and Honoratus Maynier — 
Commando against the Kaffirs Death of Tjaart Van der 

It was during the administration of Sir George Yonge 
that the second insurrection of the Boers of Graaf- 
Reinet against British rule took place. From a 
variety of causes, which I have already spoken of in 
a previous chapter, that district had not settled down 
so readily as the rest of the colony. The most tur- 
bulent spirits of the colony were congregated there, 
genuine frontier ruffians like Coenraad du Buys and 
his gang, who were constantly mixed up in Kaffir 
squabbles and intrigues for the sake of spoil, and 
from passing much of their lives in the Kaffir kraals 
had fallen into many of the ways of these savages. 
Being so far away from Capetown also, the district 
had continued to be a kind of centre for intrigues 
with French agents and the Dutch governors in the 
East Indies. Preparations had actually been made 


for the landing of French volunteers and ammunition 
in Algoa Bay, in aid of a general rising which was 
to take place in the eastern districts of the colony. 
It was expected, too, that Du Buys and Jan Botha, 
the leading spirits of that particularly lawless gang I 
have mentioned, would be able to induce the great 
chief Gaika, and perhaps also the Kaffir tribes on the 
west side of the Fish River, to join in the rising.^ 

No doubt the real cause of their disaffection was 
the refusal of the British Governors to allow them to 
cross the boundary of the Fish River and take pos- 
session of the Kaffir country " as far as the Kat 
River and even, if it might be, unto the Koonap." 
That fertile district, the garden of Kaffirland, was a 
constant temptation to the Boers of Bruintjes 
Hoogte, who had already taken up some " places " in 
the district when they were recalled by Lord Macart- 
ney. That Governor had also positively prohibited 
all ordinary intercourse between the colonists and 
the Kaffirs, with a view of putting a stop to the 
constant quarrelling and raiding between them, and 
had thus made the illicit trade in cattle more diffi- 
cult.'- Whatever the cause was, the insurrection was 

1 See Fiscal van Rhyneveld's Investigation and Report, 
Records, 1 799-1 801, p. 284. 

- For Lord Macartney's frontier policy, see Records, 1796 — 9, 
p. 95. It is just and humane in spirit, but without specific 

H 2 


precipitated by an incident which throws a very clear 
Hght on the difficulties the Government had to cope 
with in that region. 

One of the most prominent burghers in the Graaff- 
Reinet district, a Heemraad or local councillor and a 
commandant in the field, was Adriaan van Jaarsveld. 
His career may be taken as a fair specimen of the 
life of a frontier Boer. In his earlier days he had 
owned a farm north, in the Sneenwberg Mountains, 
and had led many a commando against the Bushmen 
in these parts, sometimes surprising and exterminat- 
ing whole camps of them. But in these days the 
Bushmen were still able to hold on to their dens in 
that wild district, and Adriaan, tiring of the inter- 
minable conflict, came south to Bruintjes Hoogte in 
1776, with others of the northern farmers, to take up 
lands in that newly opened district. Here they came 
in contact with the Kosa-Kaffir tribes, and particu- 
larly with the Imidange (Mandankae or Amandanka, 
write the older travellers). For a time Boers and 
Kaffirs seem to have lived on decent terms with 
each other. But, probably from the inveterate habits 
of both, occasions of hostility arose, and in December 
of 1780, a commando was got together under the 
leadership of Van Jaarsveld. 

The Boers began by a famous act of treachery 
which was afterwards brought home to Adriaan. 
They invited the Imidange to a meeting for the 


purpose of discussing their mutual claims, and having, 
according to custom, spread beads and tobacco on 
the ground as presents to the Kafifirs, they shot the 
latter down as they were eagerly scrambling for them. 
That is the tale as given by Mr. Brownlee, the well- 
known missionary, who was long amongst the Kaffirs.^ 
Dr. Theal's version, introduced casually and far apart 
from his main account of the commando, is not sub- 
stantially different as to the fact of the treachery 
and slaughter.- Van Jaarsveld's commando kept the 
field from May to July of 1781, and returned with a 
spoil of over five thousand cattle. The Imidange 
abandoned Bruintjes Hoogte and sought refuge with 
their countrymen in the Zuurveld. So began and 
ended the first Kaffir war. 

Later on Adriaan was a leader in the rebellion 
of 1794 against the Dutch Government, when the 
Graaff-Reineters hoisted the tricolour and expelled 
their landdrost ; and his is one of the names ap- 
pended to that first diplomatic letter of the Graaff- 
Reinet Boers to General Craig. Adriaan was now 
advanced in years, but age had not tamed his blood or 
taught him caution. In 1798 this respected burgher 

1 Brownlee's account of the Amakosas is given in full by 
Thompson {Travels and Adventures) in the Appendix to his 
second volume. 

- Compare History of South Africa, 1652 — 1795, vol. ii., 
p. 173 and p. 257. 


and magistrate forged a receipt for interest payable 
on a loan he had received. That sounds bad in the 
ears of a civilised community, but to Adriaan and the 
Bruintjes Hoogte burghers it seemed no great matter. 
His creditor was a Capetown corporation, the Or- 
phan Chamber, a kind of trust company for widows 
and orphans ; and to cheat a Capetown creditor 
seemed perhaps as natural to him as deforcing a 
sheriff's officer was to Rob Roy. Still it shows the 
state of things with which a British Governor had to 
deal with in Graaff-Reinet. Of course Adriaan was 
summoned before the court of justice at Capetown, 
and on refusing to appear was arrested by a small 
party of soldiers under the authority of the magis- 
trate in Graaff-Reinet. But the burghers were 
alarmed at this phenomenon of the long arm of the 
law extending itself so impressively into their dis- 
trict ; it was a new thing, contumacy under the 
Dutch rule, Barrow says, being practised with im- 
punity on the frontier ; accordingly a party of 
Prinsloos, Krugers, Bothas and others assembled, 
and having first successfully wiled the landdrost 
into recalling six of the dragoons who guarded 
Adriaan, rescued him by force. They then took 
possession of the district in the name of the ' Voice 
of the People,' kept the landdrost, Bresler, a prisoner 
in the Drostdy, and in danger of his life for some 
months. The burghers of the Sneeuwberg, and some 


other districts of GraafF-Reinet, professed to be on 
the side of the law and the landdrost, but did not 
think proper to make a fight of it, or even appear on 
the scene till British troops despatched by the Gov- 
ernor arrived. The nmalcontents, about 150 in num- 
ber, then submitted unconditionally, about twenty of 
them, amongst whom was Van Jaarsveld, were made 
prisoners and taken to Capetown for trial, where 
the Court of Justice pronounced them guilty and 
sentenced three to death. The rest were dismissed 
with a warning.^ 

Mr. Theal is afflicted over the severity shown by 
the British Governor on this occasion ; the poor 
burghers, the brave old commandant, Adriaan van 
Jaarsveld, never expected such a thing as to be carried 
away prisoners to Capetown. It was but a petty 
revolt, he says, easy to quell. As a matter of fact. 
Brigadier Vandeleur, who led the British troops into 
Graaff-Reinet, reported that it was quite a dangerous 
affair. " The present disturbances," writes the briga- 
dier, " seem to be of a nature which requires imme- 
diate suppression, otherwise there is no saying where 
they may end. The quantity of ammunition which 
the disaffected have contrived to get into their hands, 

1 The death sentence was never carried out, but poor old 
Van Jaarsveld, an intelligent man who wrote down observations 
of things and probably read the Buiten-Lcven on a Sunday, 
died in prison soon after. 


added to the degree of system and regularity which 
has hitherto regulated their proceedings, convinces 
me that the game is a deeper one than was at first 
apprehended." In fact, as we learn from the letters 
and reports concerning this affair, which appear in 
the Records, it was part of a plan for a general rising 
which had for some time been preparing, and stood 
in close connection with a network of intrigue which 
included the Kaffir tribes as well as French and 
Dutch forces in the East. 

The worst result of Van Jaarsveld's insurrection was 
that it destroyed for the time that co-operation be- 
tween the frontier Boers and the Cape Government on 
which the security of the frontier depended. Not one 
of the parties concerned, Britons, Boers, Hottentots, 
Kaffirs, could now trust the other. The Kaffir clans 
in the Zuurveld, the broken Imidange most active 
amongst them, says Vanderkemp, now took advantage 
of the disorganised condition of the Graaff-Reinet dis- 
trict to raid the farms, slaughtering such of the farmers 
as chanced to fall into their hands. The British forces 
and the Boers united in defence of the colony. But 
the Hottentot herdsmen, who had deserted the Boer 
farms and joined the Hottentot corps in the British 
force during the insurrection, became alarmed that in 
the end they would be left to the vengeance of a race 
whose cruelty they well knew, and some of them in 
their desperation joined the raiding Kaffirs. Gaika, 


too, the chief of the great Kaffir tribe on the farther 
side of the Fish River, showed signs of restlessness, 
his suspicions of the British Governor's designs being 
no doubt adroitly played upon by the fugitive Boers, 
who had found refuge at his kraal on the failure of 
the insurrection. Altogether it was a very mixed 
affair, and required considerate treatment as well as 
firmness and a display of strength in order to com- 
pose matters, otherwise a great war with Kaffirs and 
Hottentots combined might easily be kindled ; a war 
which would serve no purpose, either of justice or 
policy. Such was the opinion of General Dundas, 
who marched to the frontier with a large force of 
troops to establish order (see Dundas's letter and 
answers to Sir George Yonge, Records, 1 799-1 801, 
p. 57). The General, supported by Mr. Maynier, 
the landdrost or chief magistrate of Graaff-Reinet, 
who always stood firmly on the principle that if 
you kept faith with the Kaffirs they would keep 
faith with you, resolved to try pacific measures ; a 
treaty was accordingly made, to which the great chief 
Gaika at least always remained faithful ; presents 
were given to the Kaffirs ; money compensation, dis- 
tribution of captured cattle made to the burghers, 
and affairs assumed their normal condition. To strike 
at the root of such troubles, the Government estab- 
lished a Register of the Hottentots serving with the 
farmers, and made regulations to prevent cruelty or 


oppression of the former ; it also resolved to enforce 
the laws regarding illicit trade in cattle more strictly, 
and to establish a fort in the district, with a garrison 
sufficient to impress Kaffirs and burghers alike with 
a sense of the presence of law and authority. 

But the burghers were disappointed. They had 
expected a big raid, with great spoil in the way of 
cattle, and perhaps occupation of new lands, instead of 
which they declared they had not even got full com- 
pensation for their losses. There was some truth in 
their complaint, but they overlooked the fact that they 
themselves, or at least a turbulent faction amongst 
them, were largely to blame for all that had occurred. 

Dr. Theal also is greatly grieved at the peaceful 
termination of this affair. He veils its connection 
with the insurrection of the Boers, and represents it, 
just as he represents the policy of the Dutch Govern- 
ment in a similar case, the Kaffir war of 1793, as an 
ignominious surrender of the frontiersman's rights to 
the high-handed insolence of the Kaffir. To get a 
parallel to it he goes back to the early history of 
England when the Anglo-Saxons used to buy off the 
hosts of plundering Danes that invaded their country. 
(See his Story of the Nations : South Africa, p. 125.) 
But that is a very rough and ready kind of judg- 
ment, and is certainly very far from doing justice to 
the grounds upon which General Dundas, the com- 
mander of the British force, made his decision In 


his report to the Governor at Capetown, the General, 
after remarking that the late disorders at Graaff- 
Reinet seemed to him to have been " of a nature to 
threaten, in their probable effects, the destruction of 
the colony," proceeds to state what in his opinion is 
the only just and honourable policy for the British 
Government to pursue on the frontier, and the only 
one, moreover, which has a chance of giving peace 
and security to that troubled region. " I must observe 
to your Excellency," he writes, " that to the habits of 
licentiousness, injustice and cruelty of the white in- 
habitants with the system of oppression under which 
the native Hottentots of the colony have lived, and the 
injuries the Kaffirs have sometimes sustained, many 
of the evils, or insurrections here, are to be ascribed ; 
therefore I am decidedly of opinion that unless justice 
is enforced with more strictness than has hitherto been 
done in all the dealings of the different descriptions 
of inhabitants with each other, the general tranquillity 
cannot be placed upon a footing of perfect security." 
{Records, 1 799-1 801, p. 15.) 

There was nothing new in the conclusion at which 
the British General had arrived. The same opinion 
had been expressed by all the magistrates and special 
commissioners who had held office in Graaff-Reinet, 
all of them Dutchmen and men who had passed their 
lives or seen much service in the colony. Even their 
own clergymen, the Rev. Mr, Manger and the Rev, 


Mr. Ballot, tired of the lawlessness of the Graaff- 
Reient Boers; and each in succession gave up his 
charge during these troubles, leaving the district 
without regular ministration till 1806. 

Dr. Theal has no difficulty, however, in waving aside 
all opinions unfavourable to the claims of the Boers of 
Graafif-Reinet. He seems to take it as an axiom that 
an educated Dutch gentleman, however experienced he 
might be in provincial administration, was incapable of 
giving a candid or sound opinion on the affairs of the 
frontier, if he happened to be a magistrate appointed 
by the Dutch or the British Governors. He makes an 
effort, in particular, to discredit the evidence of Mr. 
Maynier by suggesting that that functionary's reports 
were drawn up to curry favour with the successive 
authorities, Dutch and British, at Capetown. Dr. 
Theal makes no attempt at proving his allegation, and 
I can find no grounds for such an opinion except what 
Dr. Theal well knows to be the very unreliable com- 
plaints and suspicions of the Graaff-Reineters them- 
selves, a race of men suspicious to the degree of 
absurdity. My own opinion, after reading those 
Records, which contain Mr. Maynier's official cor- 
respondence and the reports of English generals and 
others who were intimately acquainted with him and 
his district, is that he was an able, honest, and very 
courageous man. 

No doubt the British authorities were influenced 


by practical considerations as well as by principles of 
humanity and justice in the policy which they 
adopted. The eagerness of the frontier Boer for wars 
which would extend the boundaries of the colony, and 
allow him to occupy the fine grazing lands owned by 
the Kafifirs between the mountain ranges and the 
sea, opened up no fascinating prospects to the Cape 
Government. It meant great wars and a ruthless 
extermination of the Kaffirs ; it meant difficult and 
expensive military expeditions, it involved problems 
of military protection, a line of frontier forts for one 
thing, problems of administration and government in 
remote inaccessible districts with the most intractable 
class of subjects. The problem as it existed was 
difficult enough. General Dundas, in his report to Sir 
George Yonge after his expedition, states that there 
were 300 miles of a Kaffir frontier, bordered all the 
way by the settlements of farmers ; and he adds that 
he thinks it impossible to guard that extent of 
frontier from Kaffir invasion by any number of 
military positions they could establish. Nor could 
the frontier farmer of that time make his way alone 
and unsupported by the Government. They were not 
always ready and willing to act together on com- 
mandos, and a great Kaffir raid could send all 
Graaff-Reinet flying west of the Gamtoos River. In 
short, the condition of the colony and its resources at 
this time did not allow of a policy of expansion on 


the Kaffir frontier, even if the Government had been 
at one with the frontiersmen in desiring it. 

But the Boer of the frontier, with his inbred hate of 
the coloured race and his greed of territory, was ready 
to risk anything. He had a strong feeling of his 
superior rights as a white man and a Christian to 
dispossess his heathen neighbours, and had no 
sympathy with the policy of the Cape authorities, 
whether it was dictated by a sense of expediency or 
a sense of justice. The question of expansion always 
underlay the troubles of the Government on the 
frontier ; and although it is not mentioned by Judge 
Cloete, or Dr. Theal, or in Piet Retief s proclamation 
in this connection, the conflict between the Cape 
Government and the frontier Boer on this question 
was one of the chief causes which led to the great 
trek in 1836. 

In July, 1 801, two years after the Van Jaarsveld 
affair, there was another insurrection amongst the 
Boers of Bruintjes Hoogte. The chief cause seems 
to have been a quarrel between them and their land- 
drost, Honoratus Maynier, as to the principles on 
which their Hottentot servants, and the Hottentot 
race generally, should be treated. The landdrost 
insisted on the proper execution of the laws for 
registering and supervising their contracts with Hot- 
tentot servants, and in general he gave the Hottentots 
the ordinary protection of the law which hitherto had 


been a figment, as far as they were concerned in that 
district. For example, he had given shelter at the 
drostdy to some Hottentots whom the Boers accused 
of murder, and demanded to be handed over to them 
for summary punishment. Maynier very properly 
refused till a statement of the case should be made 
and evidence produced. The response of the Boers 
to this is a ludicrous example of their notions re- 
garding evidence. Field-cornet Roets sent Mr. May- 
nier a little Hottentot boy as witness, with the fol- 
lowing note : " The little Hottentot boy would not 
confess. I have been busy with him for half on hour 
with fair means, then I gave him three strokes [on 
examination it proved to be over t/wee dozen'] with the 
sjambok, thereupon he confessed that, &c., &c." ^ But 
we must remember that this manner of extracting 
evidence from slaves and natives had been customary 
and legal in the colony before Lord Macartney 
abolished it. 

Maynier had also offended the Boers by the en- 
couragement he gave to Dr. Vanderkemp and the 
missionaries at Graaff-Reinet, especially by allowing 
them the use of the church there for a congregation 
of slaves and Hottentots. That is Dr. Philip's story 
and Dr. Vanderkemp's.^ Dr. Theal's is that the Boers 

' Records, 1801 — 3, p. 324. 

^ Va.nderkemp's Letters, Jtvano-eh'cat Magazine, 1803, p. 170; 
Dr. Philip's Reseajxhes, vol. i., p. 69. 


objected to it being used as barracks by the Hot- 
tentot corps. Both are true. 

Another cause of offence with the landdrost was 
that although he was willing to authorise small field- 
cornet's parties to seek for stolen cattle or make 
reprisals, he would not allow great commandos which 
would shoot down old Kaffir kraals, and sweep them 
clean of cattle.^ 

Accordingly the Boers of Bruintjes Hoogte and 
the Zwartkops (the better class of the Sneeuwberg 
and Camdeboo held aloof) rose in arms again and 
assailed the drostdy of Graaff-Reinet twice, but being 
beaten off by the few dragoons and Hottentots there, 
retired in a mutinous body to the Bamboosberg, an 
inaccessible mountain region, and waited events, 
perfectly aware of the excitement their movements 
would produce amongst Kaffirs and Hottentots as 
suspicious as themselves.^ 

At length in November 1801 General Dundas sent 
Major Sherlock with 300 picked men to Graaff-Reinet 
to invite the Boers to return to their allegiance, offer- 
ing to overlook the affair if they did. He also as a 
matter of policy recalled Maynier for explanations. 

By the end of the year the news of the Peace of 
Amiens (" Preliminary Articles "), and of the decision 
to give back the Cape to the Dutch, had reached the 

^ See Records^ 1801-3, pp. 283-328. 
2 Records, 1 801-3, p 26, 53, 59. 


Colony and added to the uncertainty of the situation. 
Numbers of Hottentots fled from the Colony and the 
service of the farmers, and joined the Kaffirs beyond 
the Fish River, and depredations became more fre- 
quent than ever. Maynier, who was then in Cape- 
town replying to the charges against him — mostly 
absurd suspicions, and all disproven (see Records, 
1 801-3, p. 302), strongly advised the General against 
consenting to a great commando, which he said would 
immediately proceed to destroy the Kaffir kraals, and 
thus unite the Kaffirs and Hottentots in one mass 
against the Colony, in which case the commando 
would in all probability be defeated. Leave the 
Kaffirs their part of the Zuurveld, he advised, without 
continually alarming them by expeditions, and they 
will give you little trouble. 

Dundas, however, authorised a great commando, 
all Swellendam and Graaff-Reinet, under the famous 
Tjaart van der Walt. The commandant, a man of 
great courage and resolution, attacked the Kaffirs 
and Hottentots in the district of the Sunday River, 
making no distinction, Dr. Vanderkemp complains, 
between marauders and quiet-living kraals. For eight 
weeks the fighting went on without any decisive re- 
sult, but the end of it came on the 8th August, when 
Tjaart van der Walt fell in a fight near the Kouga 
River. He had been leading commandos for more 



than thirty years against the wild Bushmen of the 
Nieuwveld mountains, where he lived, and had won 
his lands, like any Norman baron of old on the Welsh 
border, by conquest and expulsion of the natives ; 
but the Hottentot was a deadly marksman with the 
musket, and his bullet had avenged the slaughtered 
hordes of the pigmy race. Tjaart's son, too, had fallen 
in this disastrous campaign. 

" Never was the loss of a single man," writes Dr. 
Theal, " so fatal to the success of an enterprise." 
I am not sure that it was succeeding very much before 
Tjaart's death, but at any rate after that event the 
Boer commando at once dispersed, and a panic en- 
sued on the frontier. Maynier's prediction had proved 
quite correct ; the Boers could not at that time keep 
the field against the combined forces of the Hot- 
tentots and Kaffirs. The Hottentots pursued their 
victorious course nearly as far westward as Mossel 
Bay, where they were met and driven back by a 
body of British troops acting along with part of the 
Swellendam contingent. 

General Dundas was now obliged to withdraw his 
troops in order to evacuate Capetown according to 
the terms of the Peace of Amiens ; and to provide 
for the safety of the Colony another large commando 
was called out for the 20th December, although it did 
not assemble till some time in January. By that time 


the Boers were left to their own counsels, and might 
have undertaken anything they thought themselves 
capable of achieving. They did not attempt any- 
thing, however, but made an arrangement with the 
Kaffirs and Hottentots, agreeing not to molest each 
other, and leaving the former in possession of the 

I 2 


The Restored Dutch Rule (i 803-1 806)— The Second British 

Occupation— The Condition of the Slave in Cape Colony 

— Olive Schreiner's Testimony — The Condition of the 

The management of Cape Colony was a heavy 
responsibility the British Government had assumed 
as part of the price they must pay for the possession 
of the Cape of Good Hope as a naval station. The 
difficulty of the task had already, after a few years 
of rule, partly disclosed itself to them, but its real 
immensity could be appreciated by none of that 
generation. The gigantic racial problems it involved, 
the certainty of conflict between the claims of British 
supremacy and the national sentiment of the Dutch 
inhabitants, the different moral standard which could 
not but exist between the polity of one of the most 
civilised nations of Europe, and the crude ideas of 
a community mostly composed of illiterate farmers 
and rude frontiersmen — these were all difficulties 
bound to reach an acute stage in South Africa. But 
at the beginning of the nineteenth century, when all 


colonial government was of a semi-despotic nature, 
these things were more lightly thought of than they 
are to-day. 

At one time, however, it seemed as if the expensive 
task (for such it turned out to be) of protecting and 
nursing the Cape Colony into maturity, with all the 
other South African responsibilities and burdens to 
which that inevitably led, was to be spared the 
British people. 

The original intention of the British Government 
had been to occupy the Cape only as a provisional 
measure, and in the name of the Prince of Orange, if 
they could obtain undisputed entrance on these terms. 
Even after the enforced capitulation of the Dutch 
garrison, they professed for a time at least to hold it 
only as caretakers. But as the chances of the House 
of Orange seemed to die away for ever with the 
growing power and prestige of the French Republic, 
the feeling evidently strengthened amongst the British 
Ministers, that they could not afford to let the Cape 
go. It seemed to be only a question between France 
and England as to which of them should fall heir to 
such important strategic positions for commerce with 
the East, as Ceylon and the Cape of Good Hope, 
positions which Holland, whose navy, as Lord Rose- 
bery neatly puts it, disappeared from history with 
the Battle of Camperdown (1797), was no longer 
capable of protecting. As Captain Blankett, of the 


Royal Navy, wrote to the Admiralty, " what was a 
feather in the hands of Holland, will become a sword 
in those of France." But Napoleon was by no means 
inclined to see a naval station like the Cape pass into 
the hands of his rivals, if he could prevent it ; and one 
of the stipulations of the peace which he made with 
England in 1802 (the illusive peace of Amiens, hailed 
with delight by both peoples) was that the Cape of 
Good Hope should be restored to Holland. Re- 
stored it accordingly was in January, 1803, after 
some haggling and delay, due to the reluctance of 
the British Government to give up their prize for a 
Y peace which they felt could be little more than an 


The three years of restored Dutch Rule (1803-6), 
the rule of the Batavian Republic, as it was now 
called, made no material alteration in the condition of 
the colony. On the Kaffir frontier the situation re- 
mained unchanged. General Janssens, a humane and 
judicious man, adopted a conciliatory policy and 
tried persuasion, just as Lord Macartney had done, 
on the Kaffirs of the Zuurveld to remove beyond the 
Fish River. But the savage tribes are not to be per- 
suaded by words after force has conspicuously failed. 
With the Hottentots there was no trouble at all. 
They were peaceably located within the Colony 
about the Gamtoos River, and many of them. Dr. 
Theal says, professed their readiness to enter the 


service of the farmers if only they could be sure of 
good treatment. 

Cattle thieving and reprisals of course continued 
to be the ordinary state of things on the frontier, 
but Captain Alberti, the Dutch soldier whom 
Governor Janssens had made landdrost of Uitenhage 
(a new district carved out of old Graaff-Reinet and 
including Bruintjes Hoogte and the Zuurveld), was as 
emphatic as ever Maynier was in declaring that the 
Kaffirs, if justly treated, were well disposed, and that 
" there was nothing to fear from the bulk of the 
Kaffir nation." 

In civil affairs Commissioner de Mist, Janssens's 
colleague, had some philosophic ideas about secular 
public schools, a Board of Education and other 
matters, but they were too advanced for the people 
and did not come to anything. 

A notable project during this period was that of 
Baron van Hogendorp,aDutch gentleman who had had 
a distinguished official career under the Stadtholder, 
to whose party he belonged. He was wealthy, and 
having a bent for economic studies and enterprises, 
had conceived the patriotic scheme of peopling a 
district of Cape Colony with a class of agricultural 
emigrants. With the approval of the Dutch Govern- 
ment at home he spent considerable sums in fitting 
out and transporting a party of Dutch emigrants, \J 
" industrious persons," who were to form a settlement 


of real agriculturists and farmers living without 
slave labour. 

The Colonial Government, which at first had pro- 
fessed itself in favour of his scheme, eventually turned 
cool towards it, locked up his agricultural implements 
at Capetown, and refused to grant him the land he 
asked for near Plettenberg's Bay. Instead of that 
district, where there was plenty of water and the 
timber of the immense Knysna forest for his saw-mill, 
as well as an excellent harbour for export to Cape- 
town, they assigned him an entirely unsuitable 
location near Hout's Bay, some three leagues from 
Capetown, where it was impossible for him to keep 
his workmen from being drawn to the capital by the 
higher wages offered. They advised him also, he 
states, to buy slaves and put his settlement on that 

At any rate, whatever their motives were, perhaps, 
as Van Hogendorp hints, the narrow-minded op- 
position of Capetown merchants, or perhaps because 
Van Hogendorp was a Director of the Missionary 
Society and had some idea of working in connection 
with Vanderkemp's station in that district,^ they 
effectually ruined his enterprise. " I could only with- 
draw," he writes, " and ask for compensation." 

When the Batavian Government at the Cape sur- 

^ See Evangelical Magazitie, 1804, p. 475 (Vanderkemp's 


rendered to the British forces in 1806, the Dutch 
authorities seem to have bethought themselves a 
little repentantly of Van Hogendorp's patriotic 
scheme, and attempted to insert an article in the 
capitulation binding the British Government to give 
him such rights " as it shall appear from the public 
records the Batavian Government meant to have 
given." Van Hogendorp, however, tired of long dis- 
couragement and judging that the time was now 
past, .declined to continue his enterprise, and only- 
memorialised the British Government for compensa- 
tion and assistance in winding up his affairs.^ That 
was the end of a scheme of Dutch emigration which, 
had Holland possessed the resources in population and 
money, might have materially affected the destinies 
of the Colony. Fifteen years afterwards the British 
Government undertook the same business on a much 
larger scale and carried it out with success. 

In 1804 the war between France and Britain had 
been resumed, and as an inevitable consequence a 
British expedition again sailed for the Cape. General 
Janssens had made every preparation for the attack, 
but his resources were limited and the Cape was oc- 
cupied with little more fighting than on the previous 
occasion. Of the burghers only about two hundred 
and fifty appeared to oppose the British, mostly from 

^ See Van Hogendorp's case in the Records, 1806-9, PP- 


the Stellenbosch and Drakenstein districts. There 
is not a single name from the well-known names of 
Bruintjes Hoogte and the Nieuwveld amongst those 
whom General Janssens distinguished by mention. 
No doubt it was a long way to come ; but the Boers 
were evidently languid in the matter. They probably 
thought that it made no great difference to them 
whether the groote heer, or aristocratic official who 
1 imposed their taxes, came from the Hague or from 
London, Except for a few officials at Capetown the 
personnel of the administration remained the same 
in either case. 

In January 1806, then, the British Government 
took up its old task in Cape Colony, just where it 
had left it. The worst of it was that this task was 
not growing easier as time went on, but rather in- 
creasing in difficulty. The Boers were really a rude 
aristocracy, living on a basis of slavery and cheap 
native labour. One great difficulty, therefore, which 
the Government had to deal with was the condition 
of the subject races in the colony. In England 
civilisation was at this period making rapid advances 
along the line of humanitarian ideas. In 1807, after 
many years of agitation, the law abolishing the ocean 
trade in slaves was passed by the British Parliament, 
and there was also a strong movement in favour of 
legislation to protect slaves and native servants in the 
British colonies from the violence or injustice of their 


masters. In this matter, therefore, a conflict was as 
inevitable between such different standards of civiHs- 
ation as that of the British nation and that of the 
Boers, as it afterwards proved to be between the 
Northern and Southern States of America, 

The slaves in Cape Colony were mainly of three 
classes, the negro from Madagascar or Mozambique, 
the Malay, and the Africander, as the name was then 
used, that is, the offspring of a Cape Dutchman and 
a slave sirl. The first class was the least valuable 
and generally used for inferior work, such as cutting 
timber and labouring in the field. The Malays were 
a higher class of slaves much employed in trades 
as carpenters, painters, &c., and generally bringing in 
a regular revenue to their masters. The Africander 
slave was the most valuable and much in request for 
domestic service and confidential employments. The 
women of this class in particular were smart, often 
dressed well, and were sometimes treated by their 
mistresses more like companions than slaves. 

It is true, I think, as Dr. Theal asserts, that in no 
country on earth was the lot of the slave so light as in 
South Africa. The great majority of the slaves were 
held in Capetown and the neighbouring districts, and 
their value as property after the abolition of the 
Slave Trade in 1807 soon became too great to allow of 
them being ill-treated or even unduly exposed. But 
the country slaves who worked in the fields had 


generally a hard lot, being coarsely fed and often 
overworked. No doubt their condition was better 
than that of the slaves who were driven in gangs to 
labour on the sugar plantations of the West Indies ; 
but even in the case of the best class of slaves their 
lot can hardly be described as a light one. No class 
of slaves was permitted marriage, although they had 
relations amongst themselves which the better class 
of them considered binding ; even in Bird's time 
(1822) many of their Dutch masters were still stub- 
bornly opposed to their education or instruction in 
Christianity, and considered it superfluous to teach 
them anything but the sixth and eighth command- 
ments. They might be sold away from their families, 
and this was likely to happen if their owner died. 
When they became old and worn out they were apt 
to be starved and neglected, however faithful they 
had been. The laws, as administered, afforded them but 
a feeble protection from the passions or the avarice of 
a brutal master, and we all know that an authority 
which is almost absolute is certain often to be abused. 
Those who have read Olive Schreiner's Stray 
Thoughts about South Africa, will remember the dark 
domestic tragedies she hints at there as certainly not 
infrequent in those earlier times : 

Old white men and women (she writes) are still living in 
South Africa, who can remember how, in their early days [say 
about 1820] they saw men with guns out in the beautiful woods 


at Newlands hunting runaway slaves. They can tell what a 
mistress once did when a slave became pregnant by her 
master ; and there are stories about hot ovens. Such stories, 
as the story of Dirk, whose master seduced his wife, and Dirk 
bitterly resented it, " and one day," says the narrator, " we 
children saw Dirk taken across the yard into the wine-house ; 
we heard he was to be flogged. For some days after we fancied 
we heard noises in the cellar ; one night, in the moonlight, we 
heard something, and got up and looked out ; and we saw 
something slipped across the yard by three men ; we children 
dared say nothing, because my grandfather never let any one 
remark about the slaves ; but we were sure it was Dirk's body." 

Olive Schreiner will not be suspected of darkening 
the traits of Boer character ; but light as her touch on 
this phase of Boer history is meant to be, that tale of 
Dirk has lost nothing of its tragic character in her 
hands. And when you consider that in these days, 
according to the same authority, out of every four 
children born to a slave mother, three were the 
children of the white man who was her master, you 
can easily understand that in the household of the 
Boer, living far from society or immediate control of 
any kind, there were often domestic tragedies. There 
may be nothing new in these tragedies, as Olive 
Schreiner remarks: " It is all as old as the time of the 
Romans and Chaldeans," she says ; " to be surprised at 
it is folly, to imply that it is peculiar to South Africa 
and the outcome of the abnormal structure of the 
Boers is a lie." Most true ; but in the second decade 
of the nineteenth century — the time to which by 


calculation her stories must refer — it was a state of 
things sure to breed disagreement between the Boers 
and the representatives of a country where Clarksons 
and Wilberforces were a power. 

The condition of the Hottentot race within the 
Colony was in general hardly any better than that of 
the slaves, and in some respects it seems to have been 
even worse. The Hottentots were the original in- 
habitants of the southern corner of Africa, and at the 
time of Van Riebeek's settlement at the Cape were 
found in numerous clans, Goringhaiquas, Cockoquas, 
Erigriquas, on the west coast, and Hessequas, 
Attaquas Outeniquas and others on the east, 
names and tribes which have long passed out of the 
history of South Africa. They seem to have lived in 
ease on the produce of their flocks and herds, and 
though quarrelling occasionally over their pasture 
grounds were on the whole, like their later represent- 
atives, a people of mild and indolent disposition, 
possessing neither the characteristic energy nor the 
ferocity of savage races. 

The tribal organisation of the Hottentots was weak, 
their chiefs having but little authority and no co- 
hesion existing among the different clans. Con- 
sequently the colonists, helped perhaps by two great 
plagues of small -pox which broke out amongst them, 
(17 1 3 and 1755), found little difficulty in dispossess- 
ing them of their ancient pasture grounds, and by the 


middle of the eighteenth century their territorial oc- 
cupation of the country was reduced to a few kraals 
inhabiting inferior tracts passed over by the Boers.^ 
The great bulk of the race became dependents on the 
Boer and filled his farmstead with an abject train of 
herdsmen and servants, fed on cheap flesh and re- 
munerated at the end of the year with a present of 
tobacco and perhaps a couple of sheep. The system 
of enforced " apprenticeship " of Hottentot children 
born on Boer farms also operated to keep whole 
families in practical servitude. 

Their treatment varied, of course, with the temper 
of their master. But he, the descendant of a Frisian 
peasant or German mercenary, was of no gentle kind, 
and while it might be tolerable there was nothing in 
these days to prevent it being excessively harsh, as it 
frequently was in the remoter districts. To be tied 
up to the waggon wheel and flogged with the heavy 
sjambok, while the Boer smoked one, or two, or three 
pipes, according to his judgment of the misdemeanour, 
or to receive a charge of small shot in his legs seem to 
have been no uncommon degrees of punishment for 
an angry Boer to use with his unfortunate Hottentot 
servant. What worse forms of torture might be 
inflicted by brutal masters the reader may find in 
Barrow, Kay and other writers.^ 

' See Sparrman's account of them, vol. i., p. 241. 

2 Barrow, vol. ii., chap. 2, p. 97 ; Kay, pp. 436, 437 ; Pringle, 


The average Boer may have been in his ordinary 
mood no more cruel than the average Briton or 
Frenchman, but he was certainly coarser in his treat- 
ment of natives and animals in his service, and less 
apt to flinch at the sight of their sufferings. To use 
knives in the flanks of their waggon-oxen as a means 
of urging them forward seems to have been one of 
their methods when on a journey.^ 

Of course we must remember the rude conditions 
under which he lived, where the daily slaughter or 
waste of life, human and animal, going on before his 
eyes made him less sensitive to sufferings which 
might appear shocking to a more civilised race not 
accustomed to the sight of its slaughter-houses. 

It is true the Hottentot was allowed redress by the 
: law, if he could reach it, and if he could prove his 
nJ case. But how was a Hottentot herdsman on a farm 
of the Nieuwveld or Agter Bruintjes Hoogteto lay his 
complaint ? He had to travel perhasp a hundred or 
two hundred miles to reach the nearest drostdy, hiding 
by day in swamps or caverns, and travelling only at 
night in order not to be retaken and, it might be, 
summarily shot as a runaway. If he did reach the 
drostdy and state his case, he was at once sent to the 

p. 250. See also the pamphlet by General Janssens' privates 
secretary, quoted by Barrow, which gives more ferocious in- 
stances of cruelty than anything stated by Barrow himself 
vol. ii., p. 405- 

1 Barrow, vol. i., p. 183 ; Percival, p. 58. 


tronk, or prison for blacks, to wait there till his 
master might appear, and then he was brought out to 
face a boardof //i?^;;/r(7^^w, who were themselves farmers, 
and probably shared fully the prevalent indifference 
and contempt of the Boer for the sufferings of a 
coloured race. For long his only real chance of 
justice in the remoter districts was if a magistrate like 
Honoratus Maynier happened to be landdrost, or if 
he could reach the missionary station at Bethelsdorp, 
where a man of commanding character like Dr. 
Vanderkemp might be able to get his case inquired 
into. But if cases of cruelty and oppression were 
frequent even under British rule and almost under the v 

eye of the missionary/ what must have been the state 
of things when the government was weak and a 
missionary had never been seen beyond the Gamtoos ? 

It is not surprising that a race subjected to hopeless 
oppression for generations should exhibit marks of 
deep degradation, should be indolent, filthy, glut- 
tonous, fond of brandy, dacha, or anything else that 
could make them forget for the time their woes and 
the disgrace of their condition, for this last point they 
felt acutely. 

Yet listless and sunken as they were they had some 
characteristic virtues rather unusual in a degraded and 
savage race. There was a native mildness, an absence 

1 See the Bethelsdorp correspondence in Philip's Researches., 
vol. ii., appendices xi.— xv. 



both of ferocity and cunning in their disposition. 
They were docile, perfectly harmless, honest and 
faithful ; they were even truthful as a people : " from 
lying and stealing," Barrow says decisively, the 
" Hottentot may be considered exempt." ^ So write 
the older authorities very generally, but later travel- 
lers, after emancipation days, do not have such a good 
report of their truthfulness or honesty. By that time 
they may have acquired with their freedom some of 
the vices of " mean whites." 

They were not without talents ; they learned Dutch 
or English quickly, were expert drivers and marks- 
men, and no contemptible soldiers when well led. 
As scouts or on the spoor they were not to be 

In the first volume of Thompson's Travels there is 
a very good drawing of an old Hottentot herdsman 
taken from the life, which is worth looking at. The 
melancholy eyes, the simple and rather amiable ex- 
pression, the weak, relaxed mouth and generally list- 
less, knock-kneed attitude illustrate excellently the 
character of the Hottentot as described by the 
travellers of that time. In default of the picture 
the reader may take Pringle's pen-portrait of 
the Hottentot in the following sonnet, which, as 
Thompson remarks, might have been written to ac- 
company the engraving, so entirely does it coincide 
1 Vol. i. p. 151. 


with the latter in the features it seizes as character- 
istic of the race. 

Mild, melancholy, and sedate he stands, 
Tending another's flocks upon the fields — 
His father's once — where now the White Man builds 
His home, and issues forth his proud commands. 
His dark eye flashes not ; his listless hands 
Support the boor's huge firelock ; but the shields 
And quivers of his race are gone : he yields, 
Submissively, his freedom and his lands. 
Has he no courage ? Once he had, but, lo ! 
Harsh Servitude hath worn him to the bone. 
No enterprise ? Alas ! the brand, the blow 
Have humbled him to dust — his Hope is gone. 
" He's a base-hearted hound — not worth his food," 
His master cries ; — "he has x^o gratitude /" 

Interest in the pure Hottentot race is now mainly 
historical. Its place in South Africa has been taken by 
mixed breeds, especially the Cape-boys and Bastards, 
or Griquas, the latter a stronger race — the product 
mainly of Cape Dutchmen and Hottentot women. 

The condition of the slaves and Hottentots within 
the Colony, then, was one of the first things to call for 
the attention of the British Governor after it became 
apparent that the Colony was to be a permanent part 
of the Empire. The kind of legislation evidently re- 
quired at this time was that which should define the 
rights of these inferior races more strictly and extend ; 

to them a better protection from the laws, without J 

too much disturbing the economic condition of the 
country. f^^^ 

K 2 


But legislation of this kind was a vexation to 
the Boer, especially to the Boer of the remoter dis- 
tricts, who was accustomed to look on everything, 
man and beast alike, within his six miles of farm 
land, with the eye of an absolute lord and master. 
He had the strictest notions of the discipline neces- 
sary for slaves and servants of an inferior race. In 
his eyes they were lazy, treacherous vagabonds, whom 
nothing but the whip and even severer methods 
could keep in order. He hardly considered them of 
the same human race as himself The direct testimony 
of all missionaries and travellers in South Africa proves 
that the Boers generally were decidedly hostile to the 
instruction of either slaves or Hottentot servants in 
the Christian religion. Besides their unwillingness to 
admit the common humanity of the coloured races, a 
vague notion, founded on a custom of the earliest 
colonists, seems to have existed amongst them, that 
baptized slaves and natives had a kind of legal 
status, and an old law of the Colony at least pro- 
hibited them being sold. 


rd Caledon's Administration— Attempt to Solve the Hottentot 
Problem— The Operation of the Pass Law— Establishment 
of the Circuit Courts— Sir John Cradock's Policy— The 
Apprenticeship System— Expulsion of the Kaffirs from the 

When the British took possession of the Cape for the 
second time, they had a better idea of the grave racial 
problems they had to face in that country. The first 
Governor was the Earl of Caledon (1807-1811). He 
was a young man of high character and abilities, and 
entered upon his task with all the boldness and 
energy of youth. He fitted out expeditions to ex- 
plore the great tracts north of the Orange River, 
inhabited by the Bechuanas and other tribes, it being 
desirable to know what you might have one day to 
meet in that quarter ; he sent Colonel Collins as com- 
missioner to investigate the condition of the Bushmen ; 
he induced the Moravian Brethren, whose work at 
Gnadenthal he highly commended, to establish 
another mission-station at Groenekloof, near Cape- 
town ; and -he was the first to give Capetown, in 


spite of much opposition from the conservative 
Dutch, a good system of water-supply by means of 
iron pipes and pumps, and thus save the immense 
daily labour of the slaves employed in carrying water. 
But the two great measures of his administration, by 
which he hoped to solve the problem of the coloured 
races within the Colony, were the Proclamation of 
1809, and the establishment of the Annual Circuit 
Courts in 181 1. 

The celebrated Proclamation of 1809 (the reader 
will find it in the Appendix of Bird's or of Philip's 
book) was intended to fix and regulate the condition 
of the Hottentots in the Colony. It contains some 
wise and benevolent provisions for the treatment of 
the Hottentot servant, the very necessity of which is 
a convincing proof, were there no other, of the oppres- 
sive servitude into which the race had fallen. The 
loth Article, for example, prescribes that " the master 
shall in no case be allowed to detain, or prevent from 
departing, the wife or children of any Hottentot that 
has been in service, after the expiration of the term of 
their husband or father, under pretence of a security 
for what he is indebted to him." This Article, in par- 
ticular, put an end to the practice which the Boers 
had long exercised, as if it were a legal right, of re- 
taining Hottentot children as " apprentices " till their 
twenty-fifth year.^ In another Article, the 6th, which 

1 See Pringle's Narrative^ p. 68. 


allows the customary punishment of the Hottentot if 
he has made " a false or wanton complaint " {i.e., if he 
has failed to prove his case to the satisfaction of the 
board of heemraden), it is found necessary to make 
the following proviso : " This Article is not to extend 
to ill-treatment, accompanied by mutilation or injury 
done to any part or limb of the body, by which the 
complainant may be deprived of the use thereof for 
some time, or for ever." 

Comment on the condition of a race which stood in 
need of such protective legislation as this is surely 

But the Proclamation of 1809 had also another side. 
The young English Governor had heard much, no 
doubt, about the need of cheap labour on the farms of 
the Boer, about the dangers of vagrant pilfering Hot- 
tentots, and about the combination of Hottentots and 
Kaffirs in the forays of 1801. The man whom he 
chiefly trusted in these matters. Colonel Collins, whom 
he had sent as commissioner to the Eastern Frontier, 
was a practical military man, with an eye for order, 
discipline, and the immediate usefulness of things, 
but somewhat limited in his insight into the larger 
issues of things. It appears to have been at his sugges- 
tion that Lord Caledon, who in any case was naturally 
anxious to satisfy, as far as he could, the Dutch 
farmers, inserted three Articles into his Proclamation, 
the 1st, 1 5th, and i6th, any one of which was sufficient 


as administered by Dutch landdrosts, heemraden, and 
field-cornets, to rivet the chains of the Hottentots 
even more firmly than before. The three together 
constituted the strictest form of a vagrancy law that 
could be framed. The Hottentot was required to 
have a fixed and registered place of abode which he 
could not leave for another district without the permit 
of the fiscal or landdrost ; he was not allowed to enter 
any service without a certificate from the landdrost or 
field-cornet, or his previous master ; he could not, 
even in the service of his master, go about the country 
without a pass, which any one was entitled to ask 
him for, and arrest him if he could not produce it. 
The penalty for failure to comply with these regula- 
tions was " being considered and treated as vaga- 
bonds," that is, being put into the tronk, until he 
accepted service with a farmer, usually the one who 
arrested him. 

The practical result of the Proclamation was to put 
the Hottentot completely at the mercy of the Boer, 
heemraden, and field-cornets. It condemned a man 
who had no land, nor opportunity of acquiring land, 
to a " fixed place of abode." ^ 

With the best of intentions the young Governor had 
enacted one of the subtlest devices ever fallen upon 

1 The whole of the land held in the colony by Hottentots on 
legal rights (five or six privileged persons), did not exceed 200 
acres. See Philip, vol. ii., p. 250. 


for enslaving a people in the circumstances of the 
Hottentots, the Pass Law. When a Hottentot's term 
of service with a farmer expired, what was he to do ? 
Procure a pass ; whither ? he had no " fixed abode " 
except his master's farm. The pass was usually given 
therefore, to the nearest field-cornet or landdrost, who 
might impress him to serve as a soldier, or turn him 
on to some public work at a cheap rate, or order him 
to find a new master within a day. For a Hottentot 
with a wife and family the case was hopeless ; he 
could only leave one service for another, with masters 
who knew he was absolutely in their power. If a 
Hottentot not in service with the Boers lost his pass, 
or had it forcibly taken from him, which might easily 
happen, he was dragged before a field-cornet and 
compelled to enter the service of the person who had 
seized him.^ His only real shelter was the mission 
station ; ^ there he was sure of good treatment and, if 
he was hired out, of fair remuneration for his labour ; 
or he might be allowed a piece of land to cultivate 
for himself and his family. 

Lord Caledon had done his best in a difficult 
matter, and no doubt official circles in Capetown and 
the well-bred loungers at the Club House in the 

1 See Philip, Researches^ vol. i., p. 1 68-1 71. 

* See Van Rhyneveld's " Report on the Condition of the 
Hottentots in 1801," Records, 1801-3, p. 90. This Report served 
as the basis of Lord Caledon's Proclamation. 


Heeregragt congratulated him on having scored a 
great success, and solved the double problem of 
giving the Hottentots the legal protection they stood 
in need of, and also meeting the demands of the 
Boers for cheap labour. 

Perhaps Lord Caledon's enactment, administered 
with mildness and justice, as it would be in the 
districts near Capetown, was no bad solution of the 
difficulty. But the administration of such a law in 
the districts about Capetown, almost under the eyes 
of the Governor and the South African Society, was 
one thing, and its working in the remote districts of 
Graaff-Reinet and Uitenhage quite another. There 
it was administered by local magistrates, who were 
themselves, except at the drostdies, grazier-boers, 
with all the contempt and prejudice of that race for 
the Hottentot, and far from any immediate super- 
vision or control. It was there also, in these eastern 
districts, that two-thirds of the whole Hottentot 
race in the Colony lived. In Barrow's time the 
average number of Hottentot servants on a Graaff- 
Reinet farm was thirteen. 

Here also Lord Caledon did his best to meet the 
difficulty. During a tour which he made to the 
eastern frontier he was painfully impressed by the 
fact that the Hottentots who came to state their cases 
to him, came at night, in terror, says Bird, lest they 
should be seen by their masters. He seems then to 



have realised more clearly the chance which the pro- 
tective side of his Proclamation of 1809 had of being 
carried into effect in the remote frontier districts 
where the vast majority of the Hottentots were 
employed. Accordingly, in 18 11, he issued another 
Proclamation, which was perhaps his greatest legacy 
to the Colony. By it he established annual Circuit 
Courts through the distant drostdies for the purpose 
of trying important cases and reviewing the acts of 
the landdrosts and other officials. There were special 
provisions also for affording Hottentots, and slaves 
at a distance from the drostdy, an opportunity of 
making their complaints. 

Of this last measure Wilberforce Bird, who reflected 
a sort of moderate liberal and official opinion at the 
Cape, says, " it checked the hitherto unrestrained 
violence of the Boers, which before that time passed 
unnoticed for a long period, and often remained wholly 
unpunished." No doubt it did some good, yet the 
tendency of the local officials to connive at and 
conceal the misdemeanours of their countrymen 
was so great, that some years afterwards the Com- 
missioners appointed to report on the government of 
the Cape, as quoted by Pringle, declared that in many 
districts the protective clauses of Lord Caledon's 
Proclamation had become almost a dead letter.^ 

1 Pringle's Narrative^ p. 255 ; Report on Government of the 
Cape, pp. 9-19- 


The merit of Lord Caledon's work has been 
obscured both by Theal and Philip, The first 
separates and disperses the facts in his usual way, so 
that the reader gets no clear view of the British 
Governor's magnanimous efforts to do justice and 
meet the conflicting needs of both the races, white 
and black, under his rule ; ^ while Philip is so taken 
up with the oppressive operation of the Pass Law 
that he almost overlooks the other side of Lord 
Caledon's legislation. 

The British authorities were certainly doing their 
best with a difficult problem. Everything depended, 
first, on the nice adjustment of the law for two almost 
opposite ends, to protect the Hottentot from oppres- 
sion and yet force him into the service of the Boer, 
and secondly, on the impartiality with which the 
local magistrates, mostly Boers themselves, admin- 
istered the law for both of those ends. Perhaps the 
two ends were incompatible in the circumstances of 
the country at that time, and the British authorities, 
in their attempts to do their best for the Boer 
graziers, were going perilously near the reduc- 
tion of the Hottentot race to a legal condition of 

This was decidedly the case when Sir John 

1 See Theal's History of South Africa, Chap, xxxi., pp, 
140-166, and Chap, xxxv., p. 340, and understand his methods 
once for all. 


Cradock, who 'succeeded Lord Caledon as Governor 
in 181 1, issued his Proclamation of 181 2, which 
restored the old Dutch system of the enforced 
" apprenticeship " of Hottentot children born on the 
farms of the Boers. The fourth Article of this 
proclamation reads thus : 

When such children as are born in the service of the farniers 
or inhabitants, have attained the age of eight years, and have 
been maintained by such farmers or inhabitants during that 
period, the landdrost of the district shall apprentice such 
Hottentots, male or female, to the farmer or inhabitant by 
whom they have been so maintained, in case he be willing to 
receive such apprentice, for ten years, provided that the person 
to whom the Hottentot is to be bound, is a person of humanity, 
and one upon whom strict reliance for the good treatment of the 
apprentice may be placed ; and in case the person who has 
maintained the Hottentot for the period of eight years aforesaid, 
shall not be willing to take such Hottentot as an apprentice for 
the term of ten years, or that the person in question be not such 
upon whose humanity or circumstances the landdrost can place 
reliance for the good treatment of the Hottentot, then the 
landdrost is hereby authorised to bind such Hottentot u?iio such 
other humane person within his district as he shall think fit, 
for the period aforesaid. 

Dr. Theal, who indexes mere rumours and views 
of his own, as if they were matters of fact, does not 
make the slightest reference to this important altera- 
tion in the status of the Hottentot in his account of 
Sir John Cradock's administration in Chapter xxxi. 
of his history. But four chapters later, in his account 
of General Bourke's administration sixteen years 


afterwards, he refers to it casually, and avers that 
" it had more effect in raising these people (the 
Hottentots) towards civilisation than any other regu- 
lation ever made concerning them." 

It does seem very probable that Sir John's measure 
had some good effects in the way of disciplining the 
Hottentots, but on the other hand Pringle, Philip, 
Read and others, who knew the condition of the 
Hottentots of that period better than any one of our 
time can know it, are very doubtful of its good effects 
and very sure of its evils. These authorities point 
out that it either kept whole families in enforced 
service to protect their families, or that it separated 
parents from their children and left young Hottentot 
females to grow up unguarded amongst the slaves 
and herdsmen.^ 

The safeguards, too, for the just administration of this 
law were often of little use. The official correspond- 
ence between the Bethelsdorp mission and the land- 
drost of Uitenhage shows clearly that two Hottentot 
girls about twenty-four years of age, who had taken 
refuge there, were claimed by a farmer as respectively 
eleven and twelve. The missionary, Mr. Read, 
accordingly protested, and Landdrost Cuyler, on 
investigation, admitted the facts, but rewarded Mr. 
Read for his exposure of the imposition by an official 
note forbidding him to " receive any Hottentots of 
^ Philip, Researches, vol. i. p. 183. 


whatever description " at his institution without a 
written permission from himself.^ The landdrost — 
he was an officer in the British army — had thus taken 
away the right of asylum from Bethelsdorp. 

One result, I think, of Sir John's Proclamation 
must have been to increase any disinclination the 
married Hottentot might have for the service of the 
Boers, at any rate of all but those of the best 
reputation for kindly treatment of their servants ; it 
must have helped to fill the missionary stations 
where the Hottentot could at least leave his family if 
he himself went into service. In this way it helped 
to make the conflict between the missionaries and the 
Boers more acute, for it added a new class of disputes 
over apprenticed children to those which already 

It placed very great power also in the hands of the 
landdrost, practically the patronage of all Hottentot 
labour, and it inevitably drew the British Governor 
and his British officials into an antagonistic attitude 
towards the missions for Hottentots, an attitude 
which often developed, as in the case of Landdrost 
Cuyler and the Bethelsdorp mission, into as bitter a 
conflict as that which existed between the mission- 
aries and the Boers, 

Sir John Cradock was not an inhumane man, and, 

^ See this and other cases of like nature in Philip's Researches, 
Appendix, p. 425. 


had he never left England, might have sat on the 
committee of the African Institution or the British 
and Foreign Bible Society, but his letter of 
February loth, 1814, to the Rev. John Campbell, 
then visiting Africa as Deputy from the London 
Missionary Society, shows conclusively, under its 
official tone of moderation and politeness, that he had 
taken a decided line against the extension of 
missions in the Colony. 

You are well aware [he writes] that the disinclination to 
ncrease, or even to maintain the institutions already established 
in this colony, is almost universal ; and that the general alarm 
and outcry is, that if they are permitted to enlarge or dissemi- 
nate, the most fatal injury will ensue to the agriculture and 
sustenance of the community. All this must be admitted by 
every reasonable man : if idleness is allowed to prevail, or if the 
labours in the field, at the proper season of the year, are not 
cheerfully accorded to all the surrounding farmers, to ensure 
industry in general and more extensive usefulness, it would 
seem very injudicious to allot any considerable portion of land 
to these institutions, that would render them independent of 
connection with their neighbours, and allow them to look upon 
all around them with indifference.^ 

That paragraph expresses plainly enough what the 

policy of the British authorities had been for some 

years, and what it continued to be for many years 

more. The existence of slave-labour in any form, 

however mitigated, will always raise the same problem 

and the same cry. 

1 See Cradock's letter in Philip's Researches^ Appendix 
No. iv. 


Of course, Sir John's legislation was popular with 
the Boers. It gave them the cheapest class of labour, 
and it often kept a whole Hottentot family per- 
manently in the service of a farmer in order not to 
leave their children behind them. 

On the Kaffir frontier also the policy of the British 
Governors was designed to meet, as far as possible, 
the views of the Boers. The Zuurveld in that region 
had long been a kind of " Debateable Land." In 
Barrow's time the name was occasionally given to 
the country along the coast between the Sunday and 
the Fish Rivers, but later it was more strictly reserved 
for the part between the Bushman's and the Fish 
Riv^er. The colonists claimed it as part of the colony 
since Pettenberg's time, and especially since Lord 
Macartney's arrangement with the Kaffir chief Gaika 
But the native chiefs in the Zuurveld contested the 
claim on various counts, and even, as Dr. Vanderkemp 
tells us, claimed the land as far as the Sunday River, 
as Kaffir territory.^ It was in many parts a fertile 
and beautiful country, well watered and rich in woods 
and pasture, and was occupied by the Gunukwebes, 
a tribe of mixed blood, partly representing the old 
Hottentot clan which had held this region in the days 
of Van Riebeek. Ndlambe's tribe also, and other 
Kaffir tribes, who were mostly at enmity with the 

^ See Evangelical Magazine, vol. 10, p. 193. 



Gaika, or refused to acknowledge his authority, Hved 
in the district. 

In Chapter VI. I have already related the 
complete failure of the commando led by Tjaart van 
der Walt in 1803 against the Zuurveld Kaffirs, and 
the acceptance by the Boers of the status quo ante. 
During the period of the restored Dutch rule fiSos- 
1806) no further expedition was attempted against 
them, and the Kaffirs considered that their claims 
had been made good alike by war and in equity.^ 

The British authorities, however, on their re-occupa- 
tion of the Colony, undertook the task of expelling 
the Kaffirs from the Zuurveld. In 181 1 Sir John 
Cradock, then newly arrived, assembled a great force 
of burghers and troops under the command of 
Colonel Graham, about 800 of the former and 1,200 
of the latter, and drove the various Kaffir tribes, 
Cungwa's clan (the Gunukwebes), Ndlambe's clan, 
Tshatshu's clan, and other petty sections of the Kosa 
race, about 20,000 in all, across the Fish River, 
destroying their kraals and their garden produce, 
which was just then in the blade. Some of them 
were mere refugees in the Zuurveld, but others had 
been there for generations, and some were descend- 
ants of Ghonaquas, who had fed their flocks and 

* See the remarkable speech of the Kaffir councillor, from 
Stockenstrom's notes, in Pringle's Narrative, pp. 303-5. 


hunted the buffalo on the banks of the Sunday River 
long before a Dutch Boer had trekked beyond the 

Dr. Theal may try hard to obscure the fact, but the 
British Governors of this period were evidently doing 
much work for the Boers besides that of instructing 
and civilizing them.^ 

^ Compare the account of these events in the Zuurveld given 
by Brownlee (see Thompson's Appendix) and Pringle, p. 290, 
both ahtiost contemporary with the events and on the spot, with 
that of Theal, Chap, xxxi., p. 153. 

L 2 


The Missionary Societies in South Africa — The Moravian 
Brethren — The London Missionary Society— Dr. Vander- 

Between the British official of this period, whether 
Governor, miHtary officer on the frontier, or provincial 
/ magistrate, and the ordinary Boer there was consider- 

able sympathy, and much that was common in their 
way of regarding the subject races. Both were aris- 
tocrats in their different ways ; both were hunters and 
men of war ; both had very decided notions as to the 
methods by which an inferior black race was to be 
governed and disciplined ; and both, in general, 
had much the same contempt for philanthropic 
theories — ideals which serve no immediate purpose, 
and generally for all that train of Christian virtues, 
the exaltation of humility and patience, the charity 
that hopeth all things, which Nietzsche declares to 
be the natural creed of the " serf race." Perhaps 
the chief difference was that the British aristocrat 


being of gentler birth and training had a decided 
aversion to anything like personal ill-treatment of 
the native. 

Both were also great professors of Christianity, in 
their fashion, the Englishman in a decent official way, 
and the Boers in the spirit of a chosen people, to whom 
all things were lawful, especially the spoiling of the 
heathen. An armed party of Boers who went out 
to shoot down, quite on general principles, a few 
Bushmen on the frontier, would sing three of Willem 
Sluiter's hymns, and take a glass of brandy before 
starting. But the Boers had not forgotten, as Mr. 
Bryce suggests (" there is neither bond nor free.") 
Galatians iii. 28. They had it very well in their minds 
as an excellent reason for prohibiting the baptism 
of slaves and refusing to acknowledge the com- 
munion of Hottentots and Kaffirs. " Hottentot Pre- 
dikant," their name for the missionary, was with them 
a term of supreme contempt. 

In short, the principles of Christianity and the doc- 
trine of the survival of the fittest were in very open 
conflict in South Africa, as the latter was operated \ / 
by the British official and the Boer. Nor do I think, 
in the case of the latter at least, that this policy was 
accompanied, or justified, by any views or hopes that 
in this way the ultimate civilisation of the native races 
was to be achieved. To the ordinary Boer the native 
was no better than the ox of the field, to be freely 


used up in his service, and the British Governor was 
at most a kind of member of the Society for the Pre- 
vention of Cruelty to Animals. 

This tyrannous instinct is by no means peculiar to 
the Boer, but is that of all dominant races whenever 
the laws give it a chance of growth. Nothing is more 
striking than the change of sentiment experienced by 
many of the British immigrants, good Scotch Presby- 
terians and English Methodists, who came out to 
Cape Colony in 1820, overflowing with indignation 
at the treatment they heard the natives received from 
the Dutch farmers ; but after they had been a year or 
two there, not a few of them were as eager as the 
Boers to subject cheap Hottentot labour to their 

But the policy of establishing legal servitude for 
the native races could never obtain any full or sys- 
tematic development in South Africa under British 
rule. It was checked and modified from, the begin- 
ning by the well-known opinion of the British public 
at home in such matters, and it found a resolute 
and persistent opponent in the British missionary. 

It was in connection with this question of protective 
legislation for slaves and natives, that the British 
missionary began to make himself felt as a political 

1 See Pringle's Narrative ; and the wages account filed by 
Alexander Biggar against his Hottentot servant in Philip's, 
Appendix, p. 440. 


force in South Africa. The vakie of his work was at 
one time the subject of fierce disputes in the Colony, 
the memory of which still lives amongst the Trans- 
vaal Boers, and injthe somewhat vindictive representa- 
tion which is given of his work in Dr. Theal's History 
of South Africa. If Dr. Theal's histories were deficient 
in nothing else, they would still be grossly deficient 
in this, that they almost ignore the part the mission- 
ary has played in the development of South Africa, 
except occasionally to depreciate it. At times, indeed, 
he gives a bare enumeration of mission stations, or 
casually notes the territory of some Kaffir tribe as a 
field of missionary labours, but there is no attempt at 
any general appreciation of the missionary's work and 
influence in South Africa. Yet it may be said with 
truth that in no other part of the modern world has 
the missionary had so great a share in moulding the 
destinies of half a continent, and determining the 
character of its civilisation. 

The British missionary, in particular, who was the 
agent of powerful societies at home, and whose 
periodical letters and reports were published in 
magazines possessing a wide circulation in religious 
and philanthropic circles, had much to do with the 
formation of public opinion in Great Britain in regard 
to the affairs of Cape Colony. He was the " special 
correspondent " of that period, the explorer, war- 
critic, economic observer and reporter of " atrocities " 


at a time when such reporting had not yet become 
part of ordinary journalistic enterprise ; and his 
influence was all the greater that the vote of the 
religious or evangelical section of the middle classes, 
whom he chiefly represented, was then a more potent 
factor in politics than it is now. It is not too much 
to say that the policy which has made South Africa 
outside of the Transvaal what it is to-day, which 
gave the Hottentot and the Kaffir a fair chance in 
the country of their birth alongside of the white 
man, whether as a free citizen of Cape Colony, or as 
a member of a protected native state, was largely the 
work of the British missionary. 

During the earlier period of British rule, till about 
1820, two great missionary societies, the Moravian 
Brethren and the London Missionary Society, had 
the field almost to themselves. The difference be- 
tween the two societies in their work and methods 
was marked in this early period, and seems to have 
led the German traveller, Lichtenstein, and Dr. 
Theal following him, into somewhat unfair compari- 
sons. The Moravians, till 1818, had only two great 
stations in the colony, one at Genadenthal and the 
other at Groenekloof Both were comparatively near 
Capetown, the latter only forty miles north, and were 
composed partly of the better class of half-breeds, 
who had been all their lives in contact with civilisa- 
tion, and who found ready employment and perfect 


security for their property in those peaceful districts. 
The number of resident missionaries at the Moravian 
stations was unusually large, six, for example, at 
Genadenthal and four at Groenekloof ; the whole with 
wives and families must rather have resembled the 
staff of a small college than a missionary outpost. 
But this contributed much to the order and discipline 
as well as to the material comfort of the settlement. 
Except in seasons of blight, therefore, both the 
Moravian settlements usually exhibited a high degree 
of prosperity. The Moravian Brethren themselves 
were plain, sensible men, " sound enough in the 
faith," reports one deputation, " but perhaps without 
that heightened enthusiasm which urged men like 
Read and Moffat to carry the Gospel into the 
wilderness amongst remote and savage tribes. 
Gleaning carefully amongst the missionary maga- 
zines we can see that there were some zealous 
persons who thought the spiritual tone of the 
Moravian settlements slightly defective ; exposition 
of doctrine, and even prayer, too infrequent, singing 
of hymns being used instead at openings and clos- 
ings ; it was even reported by severe critics, perhaps 
of Scotch nationality, that the Sabbath was not 
regarded as more sacred than any other day amongst 
them. Solid, realistic Teutons, the Moravian Brethren 
evidently were, and not likely to spend their time 
like St. Francis, in preaching to the fishes, but most 


estimable in their practical methods, and with some- 
thing of the scientific German in their discipline 
and precise regulations. Most of them were plain 
mechanics brought up to a trade. The material 
prosperity, in general, of their settlements was ad- 
mitted on all hands." " As to externals," one 
deputation significantly reports, "there is every 
prospect of prosperity." (See Missionary Register 
for the years 1818, 1820, 1830.) Being a foreign 
mission and without any strong connections in Eng- 
land, the Moravian Society had no political influ- 
ence;^ indeed, till 1818, it had no station near 
enough the frontier to bring it into contact with the 
peculiar problems of that region. 

The spirit of the London Missionary Society ^ was 
as exalted and venturous as that of the United 
Brethren was cautious and realistic. Its first 
missionaries, Mr. Kicherer and Dr. Vanderkemp, on 
their arrival in 1799, selected the most distant and 
wildest parts of the frontier as the field of their 
labours, and in 181 8, before the Wesleyans had yet 
established their great line of mission stations in 
Kaffirland, and while the Moravians had only just 

^ It had, however, an auxiliary London branch, and drew 
about two-thirds of its funds from Great Britain. See Mis- 
sionary Register, 1822, p. 203. 

2 Established in 1795 ^s "The Missionary Society," but 
known, after the rise of other societies, as " The London Mis- 
sionary Society," a name which it formally adopted in 181 8. 


ventured on a new station in Uitenhage, the London 
Society, besides its seven stations within the Colony, 
had already six stations amongst the tribes beyond 
its boundaries, one of them at Africaner's Kraal under 
the celebrated Robert Moffat, then young and un- 
known ; another as far north as Lattakoo, near 
Kuruman, under Robert Hamilton. In its zeal to add 
new fields to those already under cultivation, the 
London Society never kept more than two white 
missionaries at most at a station, and on one occasion, 
when circumstances had detained some of the 
brethren at the Bethelsdorp mission, Mr. Read, 
Pringle's " fervent Read," who was in charge there, 
wrote of it as a calamity. " We are now seven 
together ; which is painful, considering the thousands 
of heathen who want help." 

This distinction of character between the two 
societies was evidently not unknown to Missionary 
Directors and Evangelical editors at home, but their 
view of it was very different from Dr. Theal's. The 
Church Magazines of these days occasionally distin- 
guish, I observe, between what they call " missionary 
talent " and something for which their esteem is even 
higher," missionary gifts and graces," the " missionary 
soul," sometimes they call it. And though neither of 
the two Societies certainly was wanting in either 
direction, yet it is evident, at this early period at 
least, each was superior in its own line. The London 


Society missionaries were especially active in ex- 
tending the sphere of missionary work. Their motto 
was the verse of Zechariah, often found heading some 
missionary exhortation in the religious magazines : 
" Who art thou, O great mountain, before Zerub- 
babel ? Thou shalt become a plain." 

They seem to have resolved to carry the word of 
the Lord to all the heathen races in South Africa, 
not only those within the Colony, but also those living 
beyond its borders, the slaves of Capetown, the 
Hottentots of Graaff-Reinet, the Namaquas, the Wild 
Bushmen of the Zak River and the Garieep, the 
Corannas and Griquas on the Orange River, the 
Bechuanas of the far North, as it was then, and the 
wild tribes of Kaffirland. Amongst every one of 
these a missionary of the London Society was to be 
found, toiling in the midst of the native settlement 
he had formed around him, teaching them to plant 
gardens and live in some decency, as well as to sing 
hymns and hear " the great word," as they called it. 

There were weak brethren, of course, even amongst 
those pioneer missionaries, men whose heart failed 
them when they looked on the bold eyes of a Kaffir 
chief or a Griqua captain ; there were cautious 
gentlemen amongst them too, who instead of setting 
up their tent in the wilderness, accepted snug state 
livings, and passed the rest of their lives in candid 
criticism of their bolder brethren's zeal on behalf of 


the natives ; there was even a Seidenfaden amongst 
them. But in general this early race of missionaries 
were most fearlessly devoted to their work, and had 
a sublime faith in it, quite apart from its merely 
economic results, which was characteristic of that 

From their numerous connections at home the 
London Society's missionaries were particularly suc- 
cessful in exciting the interest of religious circles 
there in the South African missions. Mr. Kicherer, 
who had gone to the northern frontier of the Colony 
at the Zak River, and been fairly successful amongst 
the half-breed Hottentots, and to a less extent also 
amongst the Bushmen there, brought three of his 
converts over with him to London in 1803. The 
Hottentots, John, Mary, and Martha, appeared at 
Surrey Chapel and other places, were catechized by 
the Rev. Rowland Hill before the whole congregation, 
with certainly very satisfactory results,^ and sang their 
Dutch hymns, which seem so marvellously fitted in 
language and verse alike for the utterance of a 
simple people : 

't Geloof bemint Him, en beschowt 

Zijn mart'ling, dood en pijn ; 
De zaak wordt ons nooit oud noch koud, 

Tot dat wij bij Him zijn. 

* Rev. Rowland Hill (rather subtlely) : What quantity of 
good works is sufficient to merit Heaven ? 

Hottentot Mary (not faUing into the snare) : By nature we 


Naturally the African converts excited much 
interest in religious circles. " Africa's tawny race 
singing the praises of our common Lord," remarks 
the great Evangelical Magazine^ and gives a finished 
engraving, probably by Bartalozzi, of Mr. Kicherer 
and his three Hottentots as a frontispiece in the 
volume of 1804. 

There was a good deal of the Heidelberg and 
Shorter Catechisms in it all, but the main fact is 
clear that these poor creatures had arrived at the idea 
that the world was not to be altogether the spoil of 
the unscrupulous oppressor and the adept liar, as they 
once must have thought it was, but that the people 
of Surrey Chapel meant to make it different, and 
being themselves of a weak and oppressed race they 
were sincerely grateful. 

It is no doubt true that, turn these poor Hottentots 
into a second generation of free and unoppressed 
Cape-boys, and they are not at all so likely to show 
the same Christian humility and profound gratitude 
to the preacher and the missionary, or to know as 
much about doctrine as did John and Martha from 
the Zak River, but rather to be very much taken up 
with their own success in the world and their marvel- 
lous dexterity in driving an ox-team. What the 

can do no good work ; and when we by Spirit do good work, 
then we no think to merit Heaven thereby .... but through 
merit of Christ. 


Rev. Rowland Hill called " the fear of God " seems 
to be more connected in the history of peoples with 
their epochs of national struggle and anxiety, than 
with their times of opulence and security. There is 
a Nietzschian Ascent of Man in these things which is 
seen in nations that are as high in the scale of 
civilisation as the Hottentots are low. Look at the 
New Americanism which is emerging quick-brained 
and ignorant of the past into the golden freedom of 
ward-politics and the publicity of Life and some New 
York journals. Its fathers were Washington and 
Abraham Lincoln, Emerson and Longfellow, but it 
does not seem as if it knew any longer how to respect 
them. To it Emerson's George Minot is no better 
than a " Hayseed," and Emerson himself writes no 
English it can understand. It was only the other 
day that Life was informing its readers that Long- 
fellow, Emerson, Hawthorne, and that coterie were 
no better than the rest of us, and that " they took 
themselves seriously," and managed to impose on the 
public accordingly ; and many of the magazine articles 
written by literary personages are hinting the same 
thing now-a-days in a more roundabout manner. — 
No better than the rest of us, with our hastily formed 
judgments, our moral cowardice before the Boss and 
the back streets, and our pens at the service of any- 
thing that will pay us ! 

Life is certainly one of the cleverest schools of 


caricature in the world, but its knowledge of history 

is of the kind you get in the Chatauqua series and 

the encyclopaedias, and it is just a little afraid of the 

back-streets of Cracow and New York, perhaps a 

little mixed up with them. I am expecting every 

day to hear from it that Washington and Emerson 

were very " un-American," Krapiilinski and Wasch- 

lapski will be delighted at the news, and fall into 

each other's arms, and conclude that a universal era 

of Bologna sausages and one wash a year is near at 


.... zwei edle Polen, 
Polen aus der Polackei. 

Mr. Kicherer did not speak enthusiastically of the 
Dutch farmers in the Zak River district, or of the 
encouragement they give him. They were " indifferent 
or inimical " {Evang. Mag., vol. 9, page 289), and it is 
related that Martha's mistress beat and ill treated her 
because she wished to obtain religious instruction. 
" Religion," she said, " was not for Hottentots." At 
this time, indeed, the Dutch farmers generally looked 
on attempts to convert or teach Hottentots with 
contempt, and the abject condition of that race, every 
sentiment of delicacy or self-respect crushed out of 
them by masters who regarded them as little better 
than mere animals, might have seemed to justify the 
Dutch Boer's opinion. 

But the leading spirit and the most prominent men 


amongst the London Society's missionaries of this 
early period was Dr. Vanderkemp. His work in 
particular gave a character to the London Missionary 
Society as the special defender of the rights of the 
natives in South Africa, which it never afterwards 
lost. Vanderkemp was a man of extensive learning, 
and had had a varied experience of life. He was a 
Dutchman by birth,^ and had studied medicine at 
Leyden. Later on, after having spent some years 
in the army, where he became Captain of Horse, he 
completed his medical studies at Edinburgh, where 
he wrote his Parmetiides, a Latin treatise on cos- 
mology. Returning to Holland he practised as a 
physician for ten years, till the death of his wife and 
child at the same moment by drowning, gave a new 
turn to his mind and his studies. Up to that time 
he had been a pupil of Bayle and the great French 
Encyclopaedists, regarding Christianity as " inconsist- 
ent with the dictates of reason," but now he retired 
from his practice as a physician, and being a man of 
means, gave himself to Oriental and Biblical studies. 
He was busy with a commentary on St. Paul's Epistle 
to the Romans, when he happened to read one of 
the London Missionary Society's sermons, and felt 
called to devote himself to the redemption of the 

' The London Missionary Society was in the habit of sending 
out its missionaries in South Africa in couples, choosing one 
Dutch and one Enghsh. 



heathen.^ It was a curious but not unnatural revul- 
sion from the high barren exegesis of Bayle and 
Volney, which indeed was getting out of date now that 
Herder and Schiller, not to speak of Chateaubriand, 
had arisen with a better knowledge of the past and 
its meaning. But Dr. Theal suggests his mind must 
have been affected. Vanderkemp offered his services 
to the London Society, by whom they were readily 
accepted, and in 1798 he sailed for the Cape of Good 
Hope, giving up, as Robert Moffat says, " a life of 
earthly honours and ease to encounter the perils of 
a pioneer missionary amongst savage tribes." 

The first field he tried was in Kafifirland, where 
he and his partner, Mr. Edmonds, found a wel- 
come from Gaika, the great Kaffir chief, then 
settled at the head waters of the Tyumie. This 
shrewd and profoundly politic barbarian, as one 
missionary describes him, was quick to perceive the 
political advantages of a resident missionary, and 
gave orders that Vanderkemp and his partner 
should be accommodated as well as possible at his 
kraal. But the very superiority of the Kaffir, proud 
of his race and his traditions and with a strong tribal 
system of laws and usages, made him more difficult 
to convert than the weaker and more susceptible 
Hottentot. Vanderkemp reports that he had no 

^ See account of his life in Evangelical Magazine^ vol. ii. 
pp. 349 and 396. 


success amongst them generally. Only of Gaika 
himself he had some hope ; " it appears to me the 
Lord pleads with him," he wrote to the brethren at 

But the Doctor was not altogether without hearers 
or converts. It was at Gaika's kraal that the re- 
bellious Boers who had fled from the Colony after 
Van Jaarsveld's rebellion were living, Piet Prinsloo 
Jan Botha, Frans Kruger, Bezuidenhout, Buys, and 
others. Dr. Vanderkemp does not speak in high 
terms of their piety, rather otherwise indeed, but some 
of them, especially Piet Prinsloo, occasionally 
attended his religious services. Once, Dr. Vander- 
kemp, having spoken from John iii, verses 1-16, Piet 
Prinsloo seemed much affected and spoke himself, the 
Doctor says, " as it seemed, out of a broken heart. 
He confessed that he had suspected us to be spies, 
and represented us as such to Gaika and thereby 
endangered our lives ; but denied that he had been 
concerned in the scheme of murdering us directly " 
{Evangelical Magazme, vol. 9, page 488). " Not 
directly," Piet declares, much affected by the words of 
the teacher come from God. P>ans Kruger and 
Bezuidenhout with their families also came occasion- 
ally to worship, not more than indirectly concerned 
either, one would hope, in that murderous project. It 
is a strange but quite historical type of Christianity. 
Vanderkemp's real congregation, however, consisted 

M 2 


of a few Hottentot women and children who were in 
the service of the refugees. Thirty years after, one of 
these Hottentot women, who had always preserved a 
grateful memory of Dr. Vanderkemp, came to visit 
Stephen Kay on the establishment of the Wesleyan 
Mission at Butterworth, and gave him a curious 
account of the Christen Mensche, the Boers, that is, 
and their unchristian ways at Gaika's kraal. (See 
Kay's Travels and Researches in Kaffraria^ page 280.) 
When matters grew hot between the Cape Colony 
and the Zuurveld Kaffirs, and the raid took place 
which I have already mentioned, Gaika's warriors 
became restless and their attitude at times threatening 
to the white men at the kraal. Gaika's authority, 
however, proved sufficient to protect them. Only 
Jan Botha attempting, against Gaika's advice, to 
return to the Colony was slain by Ndlambe's men. 
The following account of it from Vanderkemp's 
journal will give the reader an idea of what life at the 
kraals was in times of excitement and suspicion. 

Feb. 12, 1800. This day John Botha, being determined to 
return to the colony with his family, proposed this to Gaika, who 
was very reluctant to grant him his request ; afterwards, how- 
ever, he gave him leave to go, and gave him a Caffre to conduct 
him safe through the country. He departed this very day with 
his wife, the wife and child of Francis Kruger (who was absent 
himself on shooting elephants), and Hans Knoetse. 

Feb. 13. Some Caffres, sent out by Ndlambe, overtook J. 
Botha and ordered him to return with his waggons to Gaika ; 
upon which he returned. When they came to Gaika's old 


kraal, where we first met with him, they ordered John Botha to 
stop there that night, and to unyoke the oxen, which he 
accordingly did ; a Caffre then desired him to lend him his 
knife ; and when he had given it some Caflfres started up from 
behind the bushes and threw their assegais at him : the first 
pierced his side, and was drawn out by his wife, who supported 
him in her arms ; the second he pulled out himself, and Mrs. 
Botha continued the rest, which the Cafifres ran through his 
body till he sunk down and expired ; the waggon was plundered 
and burnt, and his cattle brought to Gaika, who disapproved 
the fact, and said he had only advertised Ndlambe of Botha's 
going out of the country', and left it to his choice to let him go, 
or bring him back ; Hans Knoetse had made his escape, being 
previously warned by the Cafifres that they were going to kill 
somebody, and that he therefore should take care for himself 

That was the end of poor Jan Botha, one of the 
leaders in the Graaff-Reinet conspiracy of 1799, with 
his foolish Kaffir intrigues and " renewal of the old pa- 
triotism." Gaika appreciated the advantage of half- 
a-dozen good musket shots in his kraal, but neither 
Kaffir nor Boer ever really trusted each other. 

Finding tlie Kaffirs an unprofitable field. Dr. 
Vanderkemp returned to the Colony, settling for a 
time at Graaff-Reinet with Mr. Read and Mr. 
Vanderlingen, who had come out to assist him. The 
Graaff-Reineters asked him to be their parson, but he 
thought his duty as a missionary required him to 
devote himself to the natives. He therefore selected 
as his special field the Hottentots in that district, 
while Brother Read laboured " with visible blessing " 
amongst the English soldiers there, and Vanderlingen 



among the Dutch. "Commissioner Maynier," he 
writes, " favours our labours, and shows us every 
poHteness. He has opened to us the pubHc church 
for the use of the Hottentots." This last, it seems, 
was a great grievance to the Boers. Ultimately, 
however, Dr. Vanderkemp settled with Mr. Read at 
Bethelsdorp, near Algoa Bay, in May 1803, where he 
collected under his care some hundreds of Hottentots. 
The Colony had just then passed once more under 
Dutch rule, and he complains bitterly of the great 
opposition he met with from the Boers of Graaff- 
Reinet, " nominal Christians " he calls them and " most 
barbarous inhabitants." They hated, he says, the 
extension of Christianity to natives, ill-treated his 
Hottentot assistants, and clamoured for the suppres- 
sion of the mission. But the philanthropic Janssens, 
as he calls the Dutch Governor, supported him. Dr. 
Theal gives a very unfavourable and almost ludicrous 
account of the Bethelsdorp mission on the occasion of 
the Dutch Commissioner's visit to it shortly after its 
establishment. Mr. De Mist and his party, he says, 
" found no indication of industry of any kind, no 
garden — though it was then the planting season — 
nothing but a number of wretched huts on a bare 
plain, with people lying about in filth and ignorance." 
Dr. Theal knows of course that not much could be 
expected of savages from the frontier who had only 
recently been brought together, and to whopi every- 


thing that belongs to civiHsation was yet new and 
strange, but he suggests that the unfavourable 
impression De Mist received must have been caused 
by " the absence of any effort to induce the Hottentots 
to adopt industrious habits, and the profession of 
principles that tended to degrade one race without 
raising the other. The missionaries themselves were 
living in the same manner as the Hottentots and 
were so much occupied with teaching religious truths 
that they entirely neglected temporal matters." 
(^History, chap. xxx. p. 90). 

Dr. Theal even suggests that Dr. Vanderkemp's 
mind might have been unhinged by a previous 
domestic bereavement, partly because in pursuance 
of his theory of being a companion as well as teacher 
to his pupils he had discarded some articles of 
European apparel, and went about without hat, or 
necktie, or socks, in a remote and savage district. 

Dr. Theal's representation of Vanderkemp is based 
chiefly on the account given of him by Lichtenstein 
( Tmvels in Southern Africa)^ a German who accom- 
panied the Commissary-General De Mist on a 
tour through the Colony during the restored Dutch 
rule. He had something of an anti-English bias, 
as was natural, and had as little sympathy with the 
exalted enthusiasm of Vanderkemp as might be 
expected of one of the Illuminati of that period. Yet 
even in his account there are traits, altogether omitted 


by Dr. Theal, by which one can clearly discern the 
commanding character of the apostle to the Hotten- 
tots. Let the reader judge the following from Lich- 
tenstein himself: — 

On the day of our arrival at Algoa Bay the Commissary- 
General received a visit from Vanderkemp. In the very hottest 
part of the morning we saw a waggon, such as is used in 
husbandry, drawn by four meagre oxen, coming slowly along 
the sandy downs. Vanderkemp sat upon a plank laid across it, 
without a hat, his venerable bald head exposed to the burning 
rays of the sun. He was dressed in a threadbare black coat, 
waistcoat and breeches, without shirt, neckcloth, or stockings, 
and leather sandals bound upon his feet, the same as are worn 
by the Hottentots. 

The Commissary-General hastened to meet and receive him 
with the utmost kindness ; ^ he descended from his car, and 
approached with slow and measured steps, presenting to our 
view a tall, meagre, yet venerable figure. In his serene counte- 
nance might be traced remains of former beauty ; and in his 
eye, still full of fire, were plainly to be discerned the powers of 
mind which had distinguished his early years. Instead of the 
usual salutations, he uttered a short prayer, in which he begged 
a blessing upon our chief and his company, and the protection 
of heaven during the remainder of our journey. He then 
accompanied us into the house, when he entered into con- 
versation freely upon many subjects, without any supercilious- 
ness or affected solemnity. 

Lichtenstein gives a poor report of the Bethelsdorp 
Mission, " forty or fifty wretched huts .... upon a 
naked plain," with lean, ragged, indolent Hottentots 

^ They had kngwn each other many years before, when De 
Mist was a law student at Leyden and Vanderkemp a wild 
young lieutenant of dragoons. 


lying about them. Vanderkemp he describes as a 
man of learning, but " a mere enthusiast, and too 
much absorbed in the idea of conversion " to make a 
good missionary. 

Now, there may be some reason to criticise Dr. 
Vanderkemp's management of practical affairs. His 
method of dispensing in some degree with European 
conventions and discipline in order to reclaim savages 
may be doubtful. Discipline is probably better for 
them than familiarity. Perhaps, too, his digest of 
Scripture history from the creation downwards to 
illustrate cardinal points in Christian doctrine was 
too systematic for Hottentots, although it was no 
doubt, as he remarks, more suitable than " a scientific 
system of divinity." He had not a few of those quali- 
ties which the economist will always criticise as 
eccentricities of the enthusiast and the zealot. But 
in general matters I have noticed that his judgment 
was shrewd and sensible. It was not h'is fault that 
the site chosen for Bethelsdorp was a sterile soil with 
a scanty supply of water. It was the location assigned 
to him during the restored Dutch rule in 1803, and 
chosen by a committee of Boers who were not too 
friendly to his aims. This unsuitable location ham- 
pered him sadly from the beginning, but though he 
and Mr. Read made repeated attempts, they never 
succeeded in getting a better. 

But with all the eccentricities which a man of 


powerful and original character may present to the 
common eye, it is certain that there was something 
in his spirit and manners which fitted him to be 
a successful pioneer amongst those wild men, and 
made the way easier for those who followed him. 
For years after his death the name of " Jankanna," 
as the Kaffirs called him, was a loving memory 
amongst the natives, and was evidently felt by mis- 
sionaries of all denominations, between the Gamtoos 
and the Kei at least, to be a tower of strength to 
them. To the Kaffir they were all alike " Jankanna's 
children," and to be received with perfect confidence 
even in times of suspicion. Gaika said of him, " He 
(Gaika) could always be free with him ; and that, 
even if he sat close to him with his bedaubed skin, 
he had never said (or looked ?), ' Get away with 
your nasty caross.' " {Missionary Register, 1816, 
p. 477.) Similar testimony to his manners is given 
by the Kaffir captain, who visited missionary Kayser 
at the Buffalo River in 1830, and told him that 
Dr. Vanderkemp " never refused the Kaffir captains 
anything \tobacco and the like\ and even invited them 
to eat with him at the table ; whereas at this station 
the captains must sit down with the common Kaffirs, 
and if they get something to eat it is given them 
apart" {^Evangelical Magazine, 1832, p. 455). It is no 
great testimonial certainly, but the black mouths were 
evidently not affluent in the language of testimonials. 


But though inild in his manner to the natives, he 
was very firm, ahnost haughty at times, in his deal- 
ings with high officials, commissioners or landdrosts, 
who were attempting, as he thought, to oppress his 
Hottentots. From the beginning he protested 
vigorously against the two-faced legislation for the 
native, which began in 1809, and refused to co-operate 
in working it. When Colonel Collins, the Commis- 
sioner appointed to report on the frontier districts, 
visited him in that year, the following dialogue took 
{)lace between them : — 

Coiiunissioner : Will you, sir, agree to send over to Uitenhage, 
Hottentots whose services may be required by the magistrate, 
Major Cuyler ? 

Vattdcrkcmp : No, sir. . . . To apprehend men as prisoners, 
and force them to labour in the manner proposed, is no part of 
my duty. 

CommissioJtcr : Do you not consider it your duty to compel 
the Hottentots to labour ? 

Va?idcrkc)np : No, sir ; the Hottentots are recognised to be a 
free people, and the colonists have no more right to force them 
to labour in the way you propose, than you have to sell them as 

Commissioner : Will you agree to prohibit Kaffirs from visiting 
your institution and send such as may resort to you under pre- 
text of coming for instruction, as prisoners to Uitenhage ? 

Vajidcrkcmp : Sir, my commission is to preach the Gospel to 
every creature, and I will preach the Gospel to every one who 
chooses to hear me. God has sent me, not to put chains upon 
the legs of Hottentots and Kaffirs, but to preach liberty to the 
captives, and the opening of the prison doors to them that are 


After that interview, it is perhaps not surprising that 
Colonel Collins recommended the abolition of Bethels- 
dorp as an institution " designed for the benefit of 
the Hottentots rather than that of the Colony." 
After the Proclamation of 1809, the relations between 
the Government and the British missionary became 
something quite different from what they had been 
under Lord Macartney and General Dundas, and 
Vanderkemp's interview with Colonel Collins shows 
where their ways parted. After that Vanderkemp 
spent the two remaining years of his life in a 
continual warfare with landdrosts and field-cornets on 
behalf of the Hottentots. His health sank under the 
strain. " My spirits," he wrote a few months before 
his death, " are broken, and I am bowed down by the 
Landdrost Cuyler's continual oppression of the 
Hottentots." He died in January 1812.^ 

For a number of years Bethelsdorp had a hard 
struggle against the disadvantages of its location and 
did not show much evidence of material prosperity. 
It was long decidedly inferior to Genadenthal, in that 
respect. But its standard of decency and order, 
though it may have seemed poor to Colonel 
Collins, was a great advance for the class of 
Hottentots whom Dr. Vanderkemp had collected 
about him, refugees from the rudest farms of Zwart 
Kops or Bruintjes Hoogte, and generally the most 
^ See Philip, Researches^ vol. i. pp. 125-130. 


miserable of the race whom oppression or maltreat- 
ment had driven to Bethelsdorp as an asylum. In 
1 8 10, the year before Vanderkemp's death, they had 
about 1,000 Hottentots on the books of the establish- 
ment, had built a church, a school, a water-mill, 
enclosures and the like, had taught their people to 
plant gardens, to plough and sow, to cut and sell 
timber, and, in most cases, to clothe themselves 
decently. Most of the able-bodied were always hired 
out in the .service of the farmers or to the govern- 
ment for labour on public works. Even in 1826, when 
there were 2,000 adults on the books, only about 300 
were permanently kept at the mission ; ^ so that the 
outcry of the farmers against the establishment was 
not altogether so genuine as it seems. I suspect that 
it came very much from the worst class of them with 
whom the Hottentots were afraid to take service. 

Vanderkemp's mission had also its peculiar merits. 
It was an educational centre for the native races, and 
was very successful in producing native teachers to 
carry on the work of civilisation amongst their 
countrymen. Even the Kaffir chiefs liked to visit 
Vanderkemp, and sometimes left their sons to be 
educated at Bethelsdorp. The deputation which 
visited the mission in 18 17 reported to the London 
Directors that " the spot was ill chosen and labours 

1 Missiottary Ret^ister, 1826, p. 34. See also Philip, vol. i. 
p. 194. 


under great disadvantages, but the spiritual benefits 
received by many persons have far exceeded in real 
importance all its external defects." In addition to 
all, it was a kind of headquarters and shelter — not 
unneeded in these days — for the Hottentot race. 
Genadenthal, with its local advantages, might show 
more material prosperity, better cultivated orchards, 
better constructed houses, more imposing bridges 
and reservoirs, all the work of the once savage 
Hottentot, but Bethelsdorp was to him the strong- 
hold of his race, the place where the charter of his 
rights was kept, and with which the men who fought 
all his battles were connected. 

Any one who will take the trouble to read the 
letters and journals of Dr. Vanderkemp, as published 
in the Transactions of the London Missionary Society, 
or notice how respectfully he is referred to by the 
missionaries and travellers in that region,^ will see 
that Dr. Theal's picture of him as unhinged in his 
mind and sunk in some undefined depth of degrada- 
tion in his habits, is grossly unjust. The truth is, 
Dr. Vanderkemp had an old-fashioned style of 
faith, and thought more of the one thing needful 
than the many things expedient. His piety seems 
to have had a tinge of mysticism, not uncommon 
amongst speculative Hollanders of that age ; at 

^ See particularly Robert Moffat's account of him, Missio7iary 
Labours in South Africa. 


times he sought, as devout men have done before 
him, signs and omens in the passages of Scripture 
which he happened to read. At one time during 
his first mission to Gaika's kraal he had reason to 
think his Hfe was in danger. Troops of savages, 
excited by the disturbances in the Zuurveld, were 
dancing round his hut every night and brandishing 
their assegais. Coenraad du Buys, too, one of the 
Dutch renegades and a most plausible ruffian, came 
and told him he need not be surprised if they were 
all put to death that day. Coenraad did not want 
the missionaries there to be witnesses of his intrigues 
and diplomacies with the Kaffirs, and I think there 
was something of a comedy in it also got up between 
him and Gaika, the latter not being sure as yet what 
the presence of white missionaries meant in his kraal. 
Vanderkemp, however, was not scared into flight, but 
sought comfort in reading his New Testament (Van 
Blaaun's Greek edition), and happened to open it at 
the page beginning with i'yo) el/xi, yu.?) (po^elade {'^ It is 
I, be not afraid "), which, he says, " gave new strength 
to my soul." ^ 

As to the apostolic simplicity of his habits or 
the slight regard he had for some external refine- 
ments of civilisation, were they even more marked 
than I have any reason to believe they were, they 
represent views that have been held by many good 

' Evangelical Magazine, vol. 8, p. 389. 


men, and some great ones, from St. Francis to 
Tolstoi.^ Some eccentricities in his dress and way 
of living may certainly be accounted for by the 
fact that he lived habitually amongst natives but 
lately reclaimed from savagery, and in a district far 
enough away from the resources of civilisation. Even 
Father Marsveld, the venerable head of the Moravian 
mission at Genadenthal, seems generally to have gone 
about without a hat. Nor is it true that he was in- 
different to the practical side of the missionary's 
work. In his letters to the Society at home, he 
shows that he is quite alive to the expediency of 
teaching his Hottentots to earn their own subsist- 
ence, though he explains that for some years much 
could not be expected of his settlement. He was 
himself an indefatigable and fearless worker. In his 
pioneer mission in Kaffirland, he stuck to his post, 
when his partner, Mr. Edmonds, discouraged by the 
character of the people, abandoned it,^ leaving Vander- 

^ His greatest deviation from European standards of pro- 
priety was his having taken a native woman for his wife, one 
of seven slaves whom he redeemed with his own money. But to 
enthusiastic believers in the future of the African, like Pringle 
and Kay, that seemed no blemish, and to-day there are some 
modern authorities, like Dr. Ludwig Wolff, strongly in favour of 
such a course for missionaries living amongst savage races. Dr. 
PhiHp, however, says that Vanderkemp lived to see his mistake. 

"^ So Vanderkemp with characteristic benevolence states. 
Perhaps he was frightened by wild assegai dances and Coenraad 
du Buys. The London Society, on hearing of it, removed his 
name from their list. 


kemp lonely enough there amongst the Kaffir kraals. 
The event, as noted in his journal, may give the 
reader a glimpse of the man and the spirit in which 
he worked : 

To see my brother Edmonds departing from me was a very 
trying circumstance, but the Lord supported me. Before he 
left me, we went over the river into a wood, and there we 
wrestled in prayer once more, which was often interrupted by 
our tears. After I had recommended him to the grace of the Lord, 
I gave him my last blessing and he took final leave of me. I 
went upon a hill, and followed his waggon for about half an 
hour with my eyes, when, it sinking behind the mountains, I 
lost sight of him to see him no more. In the evening I 
preached on Eccles. iii. lo (" I have seen the travail which God 
hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it "). I spoke 
entirely extempore, and never before under such a deep 
impression, that I spoke in the name of the Lord, and by His 
spirit ; and, I hope, the word was blessed to two poor ignorant 
Hottentot women. 

One can easily understand how this type of man 
with his fervent piety and disregard of conventional 
appearances, perhaps ev^en some neglect of decorum 
and discipline according to European standards, 
might not appear of any worth to an unsympa- 
thetic Lichtenstein, or a British colonel with stiff 
military notions of order and how a collar should be 
worn ; but he should be no riddle to the modern 
student of history, and the insinuation of insanity 
contained in Dr. Theal's account of him (" Yet his 
conversation was rational and his memory was per- 



fectly sound,") is simply ridiculous, to give it no worse 

But Dr. Vanderkemp's fault in Dr. Theal's eyes is 
not, I suspect, that he did not wear a necktie and 
socks, articles which were not too common in the 
Graafif-Reinet district at this time, but that it was his 
mission at Bethelsdorp that first aroused the attention 
of the missionary societies of Britain and philanthropic 
circles generally to the frontier Boer's ill-treatment 
of his slaves and Hottentot servants. In the year 
1 8 1 1 , Mr. Read, his partner at the Bethelsdorp mission, 
wrote a letter to the directors of the Society in 
London, in which he spoke of the inhuman treatment 
the Hottentots received from the Boers, especially in 
the district of Graaff-Reinet. In Uitenhage alone, 
(the south part of the old Graafif-Reinet province, 
where the mission was situated), he declared that Dr. 
Vanderkemp and he knew of a hundred murders that 
had been committed. Previous reports in the Trans- 
actions of the London Missionary Society, and in the 
evangelical magazines generally, had given the public 
an unfavourable idea of the Boer of the frontier, but 
now the philanthropic societies, amongst whom there 
were influential Members of Parliament like Wilber- 
force and Charles Grant (afterwards Lord Glenelg), 
were stirred into action ; Zion Chapel and the Taber- 
nacle, remembering John, Mary, and Martha, and 
their Dutch hymns, lifted up their voices, with the 


result that the Secretary of State sent out instructions 
to the British Governor to investigate the matter. 

The charges came up before the second Circuit 
Court which left Capetown in September, 181 2. Dr. 
Vanderkemp had died, however, eight months before, 
and the loss of that commanding presence, which 
gave confidence to the native, seems to have partially 
crippled the prosecution. 

The Black Circuit, as Dr. Theal calls it, turned out 
no great affair in the matter of convictions, or even of 
charges, considering the extent of the district, the 
mixed character and condition of its population, and 
the fact that the charges went back for several years. 
In the eastern districts of Graaff-Reinet, Uitenhage 
and George, seventeen Boers were charged with 
murder, but none convicted, two cases being post- 
poned, and three being referred to Capetown. Fifteen 
were charged with violence, of whom seven were found 
guilty : two cases had to stand over on account of 
the non-appearance of witnesses in the one, and of 
the complainant in the other. That is the bald ab- 
stract Dr. Theal gives of the results. He says nothing 
of any particular cases, gives us nothing by which we 
may judge of their general character, or of the moral 
impression the evidence might leave on an impartial 
hearer. He avoids any concrete representation of 
the facts, and gives the reader only his general state- 
ment to go by. Even Judge Cloete, who was Regis- 

N 2 


trar for the Circuit Court in that district the year 
afterwards, gives the details of only one case in which 
a Boer woman of Uitenhage, doubtless with the best 
of intentions, was fatally mistaken in her treatment 
of a Hottentot's ailment, arousing of course unjust 
suspicions amongst his black brethren. But Judge 
Cloete, though a candid writer in matters that relate 
only to disputes between Briton and Boer, has to the 
full all the prejudices of a slave-holder against the 
work of the Bethelsdorp missionaries, and refers to 
Vanderkemp and Read, who had married native 
women, as having formed a " disreputable connec- 
tion " and " lost all that respect which morality of 
conduct will ever command in society." ^ " In 
Society " — that of Capetown, I suppose, where Gov- 
ernor Sir Peregrine Maitland was just then, or had 
been very lately, the ruling figure ; or that of the 
veldt, where of every four children born of a slave 
woman, &c. What Judge Cloete means, when the 
professional snufHe is removed, is that Vanderkemp 
and Read lost caste with society by their marriage, 
a different matter, and one which Vanderkemp at 
any rate had long ceased to care about. 

What some of the cases of violence found proven 

1 See Cloete's Five Lectures (Lecture Second), republished 
by John Murray, London, as The History of the Great Boer 
Trek, p. 37. Cloete does not name Vanderkemp and Read, but 
the reference is evident. 


in these very Circuit Courts of 1812 amounted to, 
and the absurd leniency of the sentences occasionally 
passed on the offenders, may be found in Pringle's 

Narrative (p. 254). 

One miscreant, named De Clerq, a wealthy colonist, who was 
convicted, upon the clearest evidence, of having been in the 
habitual practice of mutilating his Hottentots in a most inhuman 
and indescribable manner, was merely subjected to a fine of 
500 rix dollars, or somewhat less than ^50. And another 
monster, in the district of Swellendam, named Cloete, who was 
found guilty of shooting, in mere wanton wickedness, a Hotten- 
tot woman, with a child in her arms, was solemnly doomed to 
kneel down blindfolded, to have a naked sword passed over his 
neck by the executioner, and to be banished the colony under 
the penalty of becoming liable to a "severer punishment " if he 
should return ; the latter part of the sentence, being merely in- 
tended to save appearances, was never actually enforced. 

The English Governor (Sir John Cradock), it ap- 
pears, made some " severe animadversions " on these 
and similar sentences, after which Pringle says "the 
Circuit Courts became somewhat more attentive to 
outward decency, at least in their decisions." 

The missionaries no doubt might at times be mis- 
led by the unfounded or exaggerated reports of 
Hottentots, but it is clear also that the early Circuit 
Courts, composed of men who were themselves slave- 
owners, had a strong tendency to screen their country- 
men in this racial conflict. With regard to the results 
of the " Black Circuit," especially we must remember 
that it was generally a matter of great difficulty for a 


Hottentot serv-ant, or a slave, on a distant and lonely 
farm, either to lay a complaint or give evidence 
against his master. The landdrost did not and could 
not know the twentieth part»of what was being done 
in his wide and sparsely populated district ; and the 
field-cornets or commandants who did the ordinary 
police work of the district were themselves farmers, 
who rarely interfered except to support the authority, 
however arbitrary, of the Boer master.^ There was 
nothing easier than to intimidate a Hottentot or a 
slave who was totally dependent, he and his family, 
on his master for any of the comforts of life, who had 
perhaps a five or six days' journey to the nearest 
drostdy, during which he was liable to meet with 
accidents, and who at the end of his journey was 
thrown into prison till the day of the trial, and then 
brought out to a court filled with a vengeful and 
dominant race, from whose prejudices the Bench was 
by no means exempt. Pr ingle or Philip, I forgot 
which, has a lively picture of one of those court 
scenes, the Hottentot complainant, practically a 
prisoner, uneasy and apprehensive in his situation, 
the accused Boer strutting contemptuously about the 
court, nodding to the judges or whispering in their 

^ I use here the formal testimony and almost the very words 
of the Fiscal, W. S. van Rhyneveld, one of the most experienced 
officials in the Colony and afterwards Chief Justice. See Records, 
1801-1803, pp. 92, 93. 



ear ; his comrades muttering audibly for the Hotten- 
tot's benefit, " The rascal, he'll pay for it " ; for the 
Hottentot was punished if he failed to prove his case. 
That of cours? would be the local court, but the 
partiality if more decorously disguised was none the 
less present in the higher one. It is quite evident in 
the lectures of Judge Cloete, a man of high character 
and himself an official of the Circuit Court. 

On the whole when I consider these things, and 
compare the many testimonies on the subject from 
Sparrman and Barrow to Pringle and Olive Schreiner 
(the latter's story of Dirk and the thing that was 
baked in the oven belongs about this period), I am 
disposed to think that the sheet of the Black Circuit, 
as it is somewhat fancifully called, is perhaps too 
white. I could almost dare affirm that there was 
not a Boer in Graaff-Reinet and Uitenhage who was 
not well aware that the list of seventeen charges of 
violence brought forward by the missionaries did not 
amount to one half or even one quarter of the cases 
which really occurred, during the period covered, in 
that district. I say nothing of the light in which he 
would regard them.^ 

What is more, I do not see that Dr. Thcal says 

* In much later times a British farmer flogged a Kaffir servant 
to death in Natal, was acquitted by a jury of his countrymen, 
and accompanied home by a band of music. See Bryce's //;/- 
pressions of South Africa^ p. 446. 


anything explicitly or straightforwardly to the con- 
trary. He does not explicitly say that there were 
no real grounds for the missionaries' charges. He 
only says, "It was no use telling the people that 
the trials had shown the missionaries to have been 
the dupes of idle story-tellers," an assertion which 
it would be possible to make in this way, were there 
nothing more than the solitary case of the Uitenhage 
widow quoted by Cloete, to support it. He does not 
actually assert that the London Society missionaries 
were slanderers, whose statements were not worthy 
of attention ; he only says, " As for the missionaries 
of the London Society, from that time they were 
held by the frontier colonists to be slanderers and 
public enemies whose statements were not to be 
regarded as worthy of attention." {^History of Sontli 
Africa, chap. xxxi. p. i66.) 

The missionary no doubt has his faults ; he may 
at times be indiscreet in his zeal and too ready 
to accept the tales of converts or proteges, he may 
do harm sometimes by being too aggressive and 
insisting upon a higher standard than is possible, 
and by undervaluing that which already exists. 
Not to go abroad for illustrations, one has seen 
something of all that in conflicts between the mis- 
sionary and the local authorities in the North-west 
of Canada. But even where I thought the mis- 
sionary ill-advised in his action and too pugnacious 


in his temper, 1 knew that the facts he stated were 
true in the main ; and it is difficult to believe that 
experienced missionaries like Mr. Read, and Dr. 
Vanderkemp who had lived twelve years in the district, 
should be grossly deceived or mistaken in so grave a 
matter, and one which might be said to come under 
their personal supervision. As to their sincerity there 
can be no doubt at all in the mind of any one capable 
of reading the literature of an age that is past. 

The general effects of the first Circuit Courts, in- 
cluding the " Black " one, were such as no one will 
quarrel with. Both the cautious statistical Bird and 
the fervent Pringle agree that there was a decided 
decrease in the worst class of outrages after their 
establishment, and Judge Cloete admits, though in 
guarded terms (Lecture i., p. 12), the same fact. 


The Case of the Bezuidenhouts — The Rebelhon of Slachter's 
Nek — Dr. Theal's Heroics. 

From 1806 to 181 5 the great war continued to 
rumble on in Europe with events which left the 
British ministers small leisure perhaps to attend to the 
destinies of a few thousand grazier farmers in a distant 
part of the empire. The death of Pitt, stricken by 
Austerlitz ; Jena and the Berlin Decrees ; Eylau, 
Friedland ; the retreat of Corunna, Wagram, and the 
disaster of Walcheren, the new French Kingdom of 
Italy, the new French Kingdom of Spain, all heavy 
news in these years for the British people, except to 
Charles Fox and a few Radicals. It was always the 
same tale ; as Wordsworth sang after Jena and the 
fall of Prussia, 

Another year ! another deadly blow, 
Another mighty empire overthrown ! 

Some events touched the Cape more nearly. The 
annexation of Holland, made formally complete by 


Napoleon in 18 10, vindicated the British occupation 
of the Colony. In the same year, the Mauritius, a 
nest for French privateers preying on English 
commerce in the East, and only needing the support 
of the Cape as a base of supplies to become a great 
French arsenal, was taken by a British squadron. 
About the same time the Tyrol was subdued and its 
patriot Hofer shot by the soldiers of that nation which 
a few years ago had proclaimed itself the universal 
defender of the liberty of peoples. Universal defender 
now become, by a most natural development, universal 
oppressor of peoples ! 

Trafalgar and the Nile, however, had made some 
amends, and indeed the stout soldiers and sailors who 
did Britain's work at the Cape and the other outposts 
of the empire seem quite unaffected by the avalanche. 
" All right out here," is their general tone, " if only 
you at home stand steady and resolute." At length 
Wellington began to stem the tide a little at Talavera 
and the lines of Torres Vedras, and by the time the 
" Black Circuit " had finished its work, the Retreat 
from Moscow and the Battle of Leipzig commenced 
to give a new face to the situation in Europe. 

Meantime Cape Colony during these years of war 
and change in Europe continued growing quietly 
enough under the aigis of Britain's naval supremacy 
which even Napoleon could not contest. Under 
Governor Sir John Cradock (1811-1814) the Kaffir 


clans were expelled at last from their old ground in 
the Zuurveld as related in a preceding chapter. The 
Government then offered the land there in lots of 2,000 
morgen (about 4,000 acres) each, to the Boers, but was 
not successful in inducing them to settle there, for a 
variety of reasons, the inadequacy of the grant 
according to Boer standards, the difficulty in 
procuring Hottentot herdsmen, the dread of Kaffir 
vengeance and depredations, and the growing 
tendency to seek farms on the northern frontier, 
where native servants, especially bushmen, were more 
easily got hold of, combined to make the Boers 
indifferent to the pastures of the Zuurveld. 

Equally unsuccessful were Sir John Cradock's well- 
meant endeavours to induce the Boers to turn their 
squatter farms with their ill-defined boundaries, which 
gave rise to perpetual quarrels, into quit-rent holdings 
which they could sell or divide amongst their 
heirs. The grazier Boer had no particular attachment 
to his farm, and as long as there were plenty of 
unoccupied lands on the northern border, he would 
not pay a stiver extra for a title. There were few 
farms, Bird says, which remained two descents in a 

Sir John indeed laboured faithfully at his difficult 
task. He abolished the old Dutch law which 
prohibited baptized slaves from being sold, but which 
' State of the Cape of Good Hope, p. 104. 


really operated as a bar to their receiving any- 
Christian instruction at all, and made most of them 
the proselytes of Mohammedan priests — no bad thing 
for them either in the opinion of Alfred Cole and 
travellers of that class. Sir John also established 
public schools for poor white children, and gave 
due encouragement to missions, granting sites 
for Pacaltsdorp and Theopolis to the London 
Missionary Society, although his landdrost Cuyler 
bore with too heavy a hand, perhaps, on Bethelsdorp, 
and he himself had re-introduced the apprenticeship 

It was certainly very hard to hold the scales of 
justice evenly in a slave and serf-owning community. 
There can be no better illustration of the difficulties 
the Government had to deal with, and no better 
justification of the Bethelsdorp missionaries than the 
celebrated case of the Bezuidenhouts, which occurred 
in 1 81 5, three years after the " Black Circuit." 

This miserable story, out of which Boer writers 
have made a patriotic legend, really sets in a very 
clear light the difficulty the Government experi- 
enced in maintaining a decent standard of law and 
justice amongst the Boers of the eastern frontier. 
Frederick Bezuidenhout belonged to that turbulent 
band of Bruintjes Hoogte farmers, always mixed 
up in Kaffir intrigues, illicit cattle trading and any 
wild work that was afoot on the frontier. A charge 


of illegal detention of a Hottentot servant had been 
laid against him. The deputy landdrost happened 
to be Andries Stockenstrom, a humane and just man, 
who inquired into the case and found the Hottentot's 
statement to be correct. But the Boer refused to 
appear before the local magistrate. A complaint 
was then laid before the circuit judges at Graaff- 
Reinet, but their summons also was disregarded. The 
judges then issued a warrant for his apprehension, and 
the landdrost sent the messenger of the court to the 
field-cornet of the district, a sort of deputy sheriff, say, 
in his civil capacity, for his assistance to make the 
apprehension. But Bezuidenhout's character was 
such that field-cornet Opperman was afraid to 
accompany the messenger, and advised him to apply 
to the nearest military post. The lieutenant com- 
manding there furnished him with a party from the 
Hottentot corps which served as a frontier guard. 
But Bezuidenhout resisted to the last, and after firino- 
on the soldiers, retired with two servants to an impreg- 
nable cave, where he had previously stored a quantity 
of ammunition. After being repeatedly summoned to 
surrender, he was shot dead by one of the party as he 
was taking aim at a Hottentot soldier. 

In an ordinary civilised community the public 
opinion would no doubt be that Frederick Bezuiden- 
hout had had every chance and consideration that the 
law could allow him. But such was not the opinion 


of the friends and relatives who assembled at the 
dead man's funeral. They were irritated, generally, 
by the operation of this law calling the master to 
account for ill-treatment of his coloured servants, and 
they appear to have been specially irritated by the 
fact that one of this despised race of Hottentots could 
under authority of the law shoot one of themselves 
with impunity. Probably they felt very much as a 
Southern American would feel if he were arrested and 
taken to jail by a black policeman. Their point of 
view no doubt was a wrong one ; the Hottentot 
soldier represented the majesty and authority of the 
law, not his own race, and had been employed only 
when all cival authority had failed. But such con- 
siderations, if they were capable of making them, could 
not cool the blood of the Graaff-Reinet frontiersman, 
A conspiracy was formed, and again all the wild 
spirits of the district, the Prinsloos, Erasmuses, 
Kloppers, and Krugers, took up arms. 

Their plan was the usual one, to rouse all the 
disaffected spirits on the frontier, to persuade and 
partly to intimidate the rest into the movement, 
and with the help of the Kaffir tribes, to whom 
they actually promised the restoration of the Zuur- 
veld, to invade the Colony. They did succeed in 
inducing a commando which had been assembled 
on some pretext of a Kaffir invasion to join them. 
But the great chief Gaika, though he had intimate 


relations with them, was wary and stood by his 
alHance with the British. He hinted to the Boers his 
doubts of the success of their enterprise, telHng them 
with Kafifir wit and cunning " that he must see how the 
wind blew first before he took a seat at the fire." 
Notwithstanding this failure with the great chief the 
conspirators persisted, and tried to raise the Tarka 
district of Graaff-Reinet by the false announcement 
that Gaika was to join them, and threatening as usual 
to leave those who declined to the mercy of the Kaffirs. 
One of the most active in the insurrection was Jan 
Bezuidenhout, a brother of the deceased. He drew 
up the rebels in a circle and exacted an oath of 
fidelity from them ; after which they disbanded for a 
couple of days to gather all the forces they could from 
the various districts. On the seven teeth of November 
they again assembled and marched to Slachter's Nek. 
Their attempt to rouse the country was a failure, like J 
their attempt to rouse the Kaffirs, and their last 
muster at Slachter's Nek did not, according to Dr. 
Theal, number more than fifty burghers. Judge 
Cloete, however, in his Five Lectures speaks of an 
additional main body. 

Whatever their numbers, they were obstinate men 
and seem to have been kept to the last in some 
hopes by Gaika, for neither prayers nor threats would 
make them disband till an armed force under Colonel 
Cuyler, the landdrost of Uitenhage, had been assem- 


bled and was upon them. Then eighteen of the in- 
surgents gave themselves up ; the rest fled, but some 
were afterwards retaken, and some came in of their 
own accord. Five of the most desperate, headed by- 
Jan Bczuidenhout, fled with their families into Kaffir- 
land. They were pursued by a mixed body of 
burghers and Hottentots under Commandant Willem 
Nel and Major Fraser. An advanced party of the Hot- 
tentots under an English officer was successful in am- 
bushing the fugitives. Two of them had previously 
surrendered, two more were now captured while absent 
from the laager ; what became of the fifth, Jan 
Bezuidenhout, I will give in Mr. Theal's own words : 

The soldiers now approached the waggons, and called to 
Jan Bezuidenhout to surrender. He was an illiterate frontier 
farmer, whose usual residence was a wattle and daub structure, 
hardly deserving the name of a house, and who knew 
nothing of refinement after the English town pattern. ( Want 
of necktie and socks no reproach here, at any rate.) His code 
of honour, too, was in some respects different from that of 
modern Englishmen, but it contained at least one principle 
common to the noblest minds in all sections of the race to 
which he belonged ; to die rather than do that which is degrad- 
ing. And for him it would have been unutterably degrading 
to have surrendered to the pandours. Instead of doing so 
he fired at them. His wife, Martha Faber, a true South 
African countrywoman, in this extremity showed that the 
Batavian blood had not degenerated by change of clime. She 
stepped to the side of her husband, saying, " Let us die 
together," and as he discharged one gun loaded another for his 
use. What more could even Kenau Hasselaer have done ? 
{Hist, of South Africa, vol. 3, p. 193). 



Jan's son, a boy of fourteen years, also took an 
active part in the skirmish, the result of which was 
that a Hottentot soldier was killed, and Jan himself 
died, some hours afterwards, from the wounds he 
had received. 

Now I am quite willing to see a kind of savage 
heroism in Jan Bezuidenhout which calls for pity 
rather than severe judgment He was perhaps the raw 
material out of which a good soldier may be made, 
but he was a wild cateran with notions which would 
have made all decent government impossible, and 
which had seriously threatened the public peace of 
the whole district, and might, had Gaika been 
willing, have brought on the Colony, on his own 
countrymen, the evils of a civil war and a Kaffir 
raid combined. There is some danger, as well as 
some absurdity, in a responsible historian, the official 
historian of South Africa, making a kind of heroic 
legend for the example of youth out of Jan Bezuiden- 
hout's story. I doubt if those who really respect 
the fame of Kenau Hasselaer and the soundness of 
national traditions will much appreciate Dr. Theal's 
complimentary reference to the widow of Haarlem. 

The Bezuidenhout affair is the kind of thing which 
has happened in the early history of every country, 
when the central government was beginning to ex- 
tend its authority and its civilised conceptions of law 
over remote and half-barbarous provinces. It could 


be paralleled by a dozen stories out of Walter Scott 
of the period when the legal administration of the 
South first began to assert itself in the Highlands, 
such stories as that of The Highland Widow, for in- 
stance ; they are pathetic enough to all, and to a 
Scotchman they have a peculiar pathos ; but not 
even Mr. Theodore Napier, the President of the 
Scottish Patriotic Association, who sits down to dinner 
every day in kilts and with a skene-dhu in his stock- 
ings, would think of making them occasions for tall 
talk about the honour of his race. The colour which 
Dr. Theal has spread, with no great delicacy of touch, 
over this story of Jan Bezuidenhout simply means 
that he is insidiously pointing the moral against the 
higher conceptions of law and justice represented by 
British rule in South Africa. 

Dr. Theal, it is true, has suppressed these heroics in 
his later popular history belonging to the Story of the 
Nations series ; but in his Dutch history, written three 
years ago for the use of Dutch youth in South Africa, 
they reappear with special touches which are very 
characteristic of the manner in which Dr. Theal varies 
his narratives to suit different times and readers of 
different views. In his Dutch history, he is silent re- 
garding the fact stated in his larger history, that a 
commando of Dutch burghers were acting in concert 
with the Hottentot soldiers in pursuit of Jan Bez- 
uidenhout, and he concludes this pitiful story of a 

O 2 


half-savage frontiersman's resistance to the just opera- 
tion of law in the following high style : 

The spirit which impelled these two men (Frederik and Jan 
Bezuidenhout) to this way of acting, whatever name you give 
it, was the spirit which enabled the South African Boers to • 
preserve their special civilisation {hun7ie bcschavitig te behoiidctt) 
in the remote lands of the interior \to which they afteriuards 
ntigratcd\ and kept them from the degradation into which the 
Portuguese sank through recognising the coloured races as their 
equals. . . . They could die, but they would not submit to the 
shame of surrendering to Hottentots. Such was their law of 

That is the grand plea, I perceive, by which the Boer 
justifies to his own conscience his treatment of the 
native races. But whether it has been the conscience 
of the Boer, or the protection which British suzerainty 
has given the native races, which has saved South 
Africa from being degraded by a half-breed civilisa- 
tion, and how far this principle of Dr. Theal's covers 
the case of wild Frederik Bezuidenhout defying the 
law-courts of his own district, readers may determine 
for themselves. 

The end of the Slachter's Nek rebellion was that 
of the thirty-nine prisoners taken, five were hanged 
after due trial before a high court of justice held in the 
district of Uitenhage, that is, the southern part of the 
old Graaff-Reinet district. The others were let off 
with punishments mostly of a very light character, 
one month's imprisonment or £^ fine. The judges 
who tried them were Dutch, the clerk of the court 
was Dutch, the prosecutor was the landdrost of 


Uitenhage, Dr. Vanderkemp's old opponent and a 
very good friend to the Boer, All the civil officials 
connected with the affair from the first summons of 
Frederik Bezuidenhout to the final pronouncing of 
the sentence were Dutch. The only interference re- 
corded on the part of the British authorities is the 
pardon the British Governor granted to one man who 
had been condemned to death along with the other 
five. Yet in reading Mr. Theal's account we get a 
subtle impression of grave injustice, or at the very 
least, of extraordinary rigour on the part of the 
British Governor. And in his Story of the Nations 
volume, as well as his Dutch history, he adds the 
remark, that " amongst the families concerned the 
event was long remembered with very bitter feelings 
towards the British authorities." It is very likely 
indeed, and might happen with small blame to the 
British authorities. But I think Judge Cloete's way 
of noticing that fact is a fairer and more sensible 
way than Dr. Theal's.^ But we are assisting, you 
see, at the building up of legends which will be of 
no small use to Presidents Kruger and Steyn and 
Mr. Hofmeyr of the Africander Bund. 

1 Judge Cloctc admits both the wild character of the origin- 
ators and the justness of the punishment, " it [the rebeUior] 
originated," he says, "entirely in the wild unruly passions of a 
few clans of persons who could not suffer themselves to be 
brought under the authority of the law : the sentence passed 
upon them was no other than might have been expected in a 
case of overt rebellion thus committed." {Lecture /.) 


The British Immigration of 1820 — Troubles of the New Settlers 
— British Farmers in the Zuurveld — The Scotch Settlement 
at Glen Lynden — Thomas Pringle's African Sketches — The 
Old Home of the Bezuidenhouts. 

In 1 81 5 the long struggle with Napoleon was at 
last brought to an end on the plains of Waterloo. 
Great Britain had come out of the conflict greatly 
increased in reputation and possessions, mistress of 
the seas and covered with military glory, with a 
prestige, in short, which for many years did much to 
facilitate her development as an empire and her 
schemes in every part of the world. But with peace 
came the reckoning up of accounts, and a host of 
problems regarding internal administration and the 
government of colonies and dependencies which, now 
that the tension of the war was over, called for the 
consideration of the British Ministers. Amongst 
these was the condition of Cape Colony. One result 
of the war had been that at the Peace of Paris (1814) 
Great Britain found herself confirmed by a convention 


with the Netherlands ^ and the consent of the Great 
Powers in the permanent possession of the Cape, and 
the Government accordingly now began to take 
measures to strengthen its position in the colony. 

The most important of these measures was the 
encouragement of British immigration. In 1820, 
with the assistance of money from Parliament, over 
4,000 British immigrants were landed at Algoa Bay. 
Most of them were located in Albany, the old 
Zuurveld, a good corn-growing. country with plenty 
of wood and water, which, ho\\'ever, the Boers, for 
various reasons, could not be induced to occupy. It 
was expected that the presence of the immigrants 
would steady that turbulent region and interpose a 
neutral element between those inveterate enemies, the 
Boer and the Kaffir. 

The new settlers were a motley band, composed of 
all sorts and conditions of men, jovial English 
farmers, staid Scotch agriculturists from the Lothians, 
of Presbyterian faith and discipline, polemical 
Wesleyans, who fought points of theology all the 
way across, respectable tradesmen, fishermen and 
watermen from the Channel ports, distressed artisans 
from the towns, and parties of pauper agricultural 
labourers, not always too respectable or likely to make 
a good class of emigrants under the trying conditions 

1 liritain gave the Dutch six millions sterling and returned 
Java and the Spice Islands to them. 


of a pioneer settlement in a wild district. There were 
some, too, of a higher social class, half-pay officers 
and younger sons, who had come out with a small 
capital to try their fortunes in a new country. 

They seem to have been rather appalled at the wild 
appearance of that part of the coast which they saw 
first. " Hegh Sirs ! but this is an ill-faured and out- 
landish-looking country," had been the exclamation 
of a canny Scot, who came out with Pringle in the 
brig Brilliant^ as he looked with a grave face at the 
bleak hills and sands of False Bay ; and as they 
sailed along the coast to their destination at Algoa 
Bay, and gazed at the great headlands and rugged 
mountain ridges of that district, sublime but wild and 
lonely looking, their feelings rose into something like 
consternation, except in the case of some Scotch 
mountaineers, who saw something not quite unfamiliar 
to them in the great Knysna forests or the ranges of 
the Zitzikamma. 

The Colonial Government had made careful and 
extensive preparations for their disembarkation and 
conveyance to the respective lands allotted to them. 
Camp equipage and rations. Highland soldiers, tall 
Dutch Boers with their teams, and swarthy 
Hottentots to assist them, nothing seems to have 
been lacking or deficient. But the best a Govern- 
ment can do for a new population of settlers is little 
compared with what they must learn to do for them- 


selves, and we can imagine the situation and feelings 
of many of the parties (ten associated families at 
least were required for an independent location) 
escorted by a field-cornet to some wild valley among 
the mountains and there left for the most part to 
their own resources ; not altogether, however, for the 
Government always stood by to help a little where it 
was necessary. The neighbouring Boers, too, every- 
where were friendly and helpful, supplying the new- 
comers with such cuttings, graftings, seeds, &c., as 
were suitable to the soil. Even that turbulent race 
of Bruintjes Hoogte and the Boschberg, Prinsloos, 
Labuschagnes, Kloppers, Erasmuses, &c., were good 
neighbours to the Lothian farmers who settled near 
them on the Baviaan's River. 

The new settlers, of course, had to make their own 
huts and furniture, and learn the new conditions of 
doing everything from planting orchards and drying 
fruits to driving an ox-team. In some exposed parts, 
too, they had to guard against thieving Kaffirs or 
Hottentots, and were liable to be roused at nights by 
the roar of a lion prowling round after their cattle. 
What the poorer and more thriftless class amongst 
them could do in such circumstances, we may guess. 
They were unfortunate also. Two successive seasons 
of blight, followed in the third by a destructive hurri- 
cane, reduced many of the emigrants to the greatest 
misery, which was only partially alleviated by all the 


efforts the Government could make in the way of 
distributing rations and seed-wheat gratis. Under 
such circumstances it is not surprising that numbers of 
them, especially the mechanics and general labourers, 
abandoned their farms and sought work in Grahams- 
town, Cradock, Port Elizabeth, Graaff-Reinet and 
other places which were now rising into importance. 
There they ultimately formed the artisan and shop- 
keeping class of that part of the country. 

The Government had also made a mistake in 
dealing with the emigrants. With the idea of creating 
a denser agricultural population they had restricted 
the grants of land to a hundred acres for each family, 
in a country where the Boer considered anything less 
than six thousand insufficient to make sure of water 
and pasturage. The grants were enlarged in 1825, 
to those who were still on their lands, and I think 
there may have been prudence in the Government's 

But notwithstanding their misfortunes and the 
privations which they endured for a year or two, 
many of the settlers soon began to do well ; and on 
the whole it is agreed that the immigration of 1820 
turned out eventually one of the most successful 
experiments ever made on that scale. In 1824 George 
Thompson, travelling along the coast near the Kowie 
River, describes the locations of the better class, the 
" heads of families," in terms which would not dis- 


credit an English nobleman's parks and lawns, to 
which indeed he does not hesitate to compare them, 
" neat, picturesque cottages surrounded by luxuriant 
woods and copses of evergreens, in the disposal of 
which the wanton hand of Nature seemed to have 
rivalled the most tasteful efforts of art. . . . flocks of 
sheep pasturing on the soft green hills, while the 
foaming surge broke along the beach on my right 
hand." Evidently a beautiful and fertile country, this 
part of the Zuurveld, old land of the Ghonaqua and 
Kaffir now passed away from them for ever. With the 
locations of the ordinary settlers also, Thompson was 
much pleased. " The hedges and ditches, and wattled 
fences presented home-looking pictures of neatness 
and industry, very different from the rude and slovenly 
premises of the back-country boors." ^ 

By far the best account of any of these nev/ settle- 
ments is that given by Thomas Pringle in his Narra- 
tive of a Residence in Sonth Africa, from which I have 
so often quoted. There the reader may see how a 
good class of Scottish emigrants from the Lothians, 
with no superfluity of capital, could in the worst of 
times hold their own and eventually reach a high 
degree of prosperity, that degree, at least, which seems 
to be characteristic of the country, " an abundance 
of the comforts of life and few causes of anxiety for 
the future." 

* Thompson, Tra^'cls, vol. i. pp. 33-37. 


This Scottish settlement was situated just over the 
mountains beyond Bruintjes Hoogte and the Bosch- 
berg, with the Boers of the Tarka for its neighbours 
on the north, and the kraals of Gaika not far to the 
east of it ; a wild mountainous district and an 
exposed part of the frontier, but enclosing a beautiful 
and fertile valley, about six miles long, where the 
settlers were located. " The place looks no sae mickle 
amiss," was the comment of one of the party on his 
first sight of it. 

It was as the leader of this band of emigrants that 
Thomas Pringle, the son of a Lothian farmer, came 
to Africa. Pringle had received a University educa- 
tion and possessed literary talent really of a high 
order. Whatever strikes his fancy in the way of 
novel picturesque scenery, of romantic or pathetic 
incident he describes in a vivid, often masterly 
manner, with great truth of impression and a fluent, 
if slightly prolix, art of narrative. He has quite a 
genius indeed in descriptive language, and never fails 
to seize the true features and capture the right word 
when the thing is novel enough to stir his imagina- 
tion. Take his description of the Elephants' Glen, 
for example, " inhabited by a troop of those gigantic 
animals, whose strange wild cry was heard by us the 
whole night long, as we bivouacked by the river, 
sounding like a trumpet among the moonlight 


But with all his literary gift Pringle has mastered 
nothing, unless it be this field of picturesque descrip- 
tion, has organised no materials, developed no line 
of thought historical, psychological, ethical, or statis- 
tical, and made it his own. Hence even in his prose 
he remains too dependent on casual inspirations of 
an imaginative or sentimental kind. There is a want 
of observation in his work regarding ordinary men 
and their ordinary ways which is not quite made up 
for by occasional excursions on the Flora and Fauna 
of South Africa, or moving descriptions of Kaffir 
prisoners in the troiik. All the same the Narrative 
is a very fine style of work, conveying general pic- 
turesque impressions, and throwing high lights here 
and there on things with something of the grace and 
power of a Chateaubriand. 

As a poet also Pringle's reputation must rest 
altogether on a few vivid impressional pictures of 
native African life. In his Scottish poems, he is only 
one voice more in the crowd of those minor singers 
who caught something of the grace of Campbell and 
Beattie, or yielded to the seductions of romance in 
the octosyllabic verse which Scott and Byron wielded 
so well. But when he once reached the virgin soil 
of South Africa, where there was so much which 
appealed to the imagination of that age, the desert, 
the noble savage and the tragic scenes of slavery, but 
had been sung of hitherto only by poets like Cowper 


and Hannah More from the safe distance of their 
evangelical parlours, Pringle's muse took fire and 
produced a few pictures of the Bush-boy, the Kaffir, 
the Hottentot and the Koranna, which deserve to be 
better known than they are. The true rhythmical 
power of the lines on the Bush-boy has haunted 
many an ear since it fascinated Coleridge's : — 

Afar in the Desert I love to ride, 

With the silent Bush-boy alone by my side : 

Away — away — in the Wilderness vast, 

Where the White Man's foot hath never passed, 

And the quivered Coranna or Bechudn 

Hath rarely crossed with his roving clan. 

It is from Pringle indeed that we get our best 
sketches of African life and scenery at this period, 
a little idealised perhaps in the style of Campbell, the 
moral sublime and tender at times overpowering the 
natural character of the thing ; but still the only life- 
coloured pictures we have of the frontier, with its 
different races, Boers, British, Hottentots and Kaffirs. 
For the accounts of missionaries and travellers, though 
they occasionally contain dramatic pages, rarely possess 
that power of giving the atmosphere of life without 
which details are so apt to be distortions and produce 
a misleading impression, especially if the writer has a 
particular theory or view to support. Pringle's work, 
therefore, may fairly be considered, except for some 
half-savage, half-sublime breathings from Kaffir poet- 
chiefs and " wise men," as the first literary fruit of 


African soil, though as yet clearly exotic in its 
flavour. From his volume of poems, once well known 
under the title of African Sketches, I make the 
following extracts, which will give the reader some 
idea of the Scottish settlement at Glen Lynden, 
as the old home of the Bezuidenhouts was now 

First, you observe, our own Glen Lynden clan 

(To whom I'm linked like a true Scottish man) 

Are all around us. Past that dark ravine — 

Where on the left, gigantic crags are seen, 

And the steep Tarka mountains, stern and bare. 

Close round the upland cleughs of lone Glen Tair, 

Our Lothian friends with their good mother dwell, 

Beside yon kranz ^ whose pictured records tell 

Of Bushmen's huntings in the days of old, 

Ere here Bezuidenhout ^ had fixed his fold. 

— Then up the widening vale extend your view, 

Beyond the clump that skirts the Lion's Cleugh, 

Past our old camp, the willow-trees among. 

Where first these mountains heard our Sabbath song ; > 

And mark the settlers' homes,^ as they appear 

With cultured fields and orchard-gardens near, 

And cattle-kraals, associate or single, 

From fair Craig- Rennie up to Clifton Pringle. 

' Steep rock, on which the wild Bushmen, low in the scale 
of races, yet with an art instinct greater than that of Kaffir or 
Boer, drew and coloured his rude pictures. 

2 Of the Bruintjes Hoogte rebels, some of whom as inveterate 
breeders of strife on the Kaffir frontier had been transferred to 
the northern district. 

' Scotch emigrants, who had given Lothian names to their 


Then there is Captain Harding ^ at Three Fountains 

Near Cradock — forty miles across the mountains : 

I like his shrewd remarks on things and men, 

And canter o'er to dinner now and then. 

— There's Landdrost Stockenstrom - at Graafif-Reinet, 

A man, I'm sure, you would not soon forget, 

Who though in this wild country born and bred, 

Is able in affairs, in books well read, 

Afid — what's more meritorious iti the case — 

A zealous friend to Afric^s swarthy race. 

— Sometimes a pleasant guest, from parts remote. 

Cheers for a passing night our rustic cot : 

As, lately, the gay-humoured Captain Fox, 

With whom I roamed 'mid Koonap's woods and rocks. 

While the wild elephants in groups stood still. 
And wondered at us on their woody hill. 
— Here, too, sometimes, in more religious mood, 
We welcome Smith or Brownlee, grave and good, 
Or fervid Read ^ — to natives, kneeling round 
Proclaiming the Great Word of glorious sound : 
Or, on some Christian mission bravely bent, 
Comes Philip * with his apostolic tent. 


Deputy- Landdrost. 

2 Captain Andries Stockenstrom, afterwards Lieutenant- 
Governor, the same whom Dr. Theal paints in his History^ vol. iv. 
p. 54, as a kind of half-monster, driven by jealousy and ambition 
into an unaccountable perversion of his past career, because he 
took the side of the natives in the Border policy question. As 
Pringle's verses show, he had always been an advocate of the 
claims of the native. 

•■^ James Read, of the Bethelsdorp mission. 

* Dr. Philip, of the Researches. 


In what follows, we have a i^limpse of the native 
element in this wild pastoral scene. Flink is the 
Hottentot herdsman : 

— Tis almost sunset. What a splendid sky ! 
And hark — the homeward cowboy's echoing cry, 
Descending from the mountains. This fair clime 
And scene recall the patriarchal time, 
When Hebrew herdsmen fed their teeming flocks 
By Arnon's meads and Kirjath-Arba's rocks. 

— Ha ! armed Caffers with the shepherd Flink 

In earnest talk .'^ Ay, now I mark their mien : 

It is Powana from Zwart-Kei, I ween, 

The Amatembu chief He comes to pay 

A friendly visit, promised many a day : 

To view our settlement in Lynden Glen, 

And smoke the Pipe of Peace with Scottish men. 

And his gay consort, Moya, too, attends, 

To see " The World " and Amanglezi ^ friends. 

Her fond heart fluttering high with anxious schemes 

To gain the enchanting beads that haunt her dreams ! - 

Yet let us not these simple folk despise ; 
Just such our sires appeared in Caesar's eyes : 
And in the course of Heaven's evolving plan, 
By Truth made free, the long-scorned African, 
.His Maker's image radiant in his face. 
Among earth's noblest sons shall find his place. 

A somewhat old-fashioned idyll, no doubt, alike in 
its valour and its rhythms, but interesting as a picture 

^ English. 

2 Slight idealisation here in the Campbell style, where there 
might have been with more truth a picture of Groot Willem of 
the Boschberg dismounting his huge bulk at Pringle's door of a 
Sunday morning. 



of that district ; Bruintjes Hoogtc, or at least the 
Baviaans' River valley, seen by clear, honest Lothian 
eyes, even if there is something of a pious visionary 
light in them. But who knows ? The instinct of a 
Pringle is a deeper as well as a better thing than the 
cynical realism of a Hofmeyr or a Theal, and more 
likely to be justified by time. 

Pringle did not remain long in the Glen Lynden 
settlement, the farm he occupied being only held by 
him as care-taker for his brother. He found his 
way to Capetown, and started a newspaper there of 
advanced liberal and philanthropic opinions, which 
soon brought him into collision with the authorities. 
Eventually he returned to England where he became 
secretary of the Society for the Abolition of Slavery, 
and as such, as well as by his writings, continued to 
exercise some influence on the destinies of South 
Africa. He was a high-minded, generous enthusiast, 
who worked with his whole soul in the humanitarian 
movement, which was the Zcit-geist of that age in 
England, and had a faith in the divine government 
of the world which the modern economist reserves for 
his own figures. 


Administrative Changes — Lord Charles Somerset as Governor 
— The Liberty of the Press— The Liberal Party at Cape- 
town — The Constitution of the Colony — Meeting of Somer- 
set and Gaika— Makana the Prophet and Warrior — The 
Kaffir Rising — The Ceded Territory. 

The presence of a large number of liritish settlers 
brought with it new problems for the Government, 
and suggested various changes in the administration. 
The new immigrants spoke no Dutch, and with 
their arrival and the rapid growth of towns and farms 
bearing British names, the Government had a fair 
opportunity of introducing another measure designed 
to bring the Colony into closer connection with Great 
Britain and the other parts of the Empire. This was 
the substitution of English instead of Dutch as the 
language of official documents and of the law courts, 
a change which was gradually effected by a series of 
enactments ranging over six years, from 1822 to 1828- 
No doubt the British Government was looking forward 
to an eventual fusion of the two white races in the 
Colony, and felt that a dual language would be an 
impediment to that. But naturally the Dutch popu- 

l> 2 


lation of the Colony would feel it to be a grievance, 
a kind of ostentatious proclamation of British 
supremacy. It was attended also by some practical 
inconveniences to them, as in the case of Dutch jury- 
men who might not know English. But there was 
nothing injudicious in the attempt made at a time 
when it had some chance of success. The Governor 
(Lord Charles Somerset) had done all he could to 
prepare the way. Free schools, with English teachers, 
had been established almost in every village, and Dr, 
Thom, of Capetown, who had this field under his 
charge, reported in 1827 that the English language 
had made great progress in most of the villages. 
{Missionary Register, 1828, p. 40.) Even so cool 
an observer as Wilberforce Bird considered at this 
time that what between English schools and the 
frequent intermarriages of Dutch and English, the 
Colony would soon be " completely anglicised." 

After all, if there is to be an Empire, there ought 
to be an official language for the Empire, and as 
much recognition of its precedency as is compatible 
with the natural rights and feelings of the different 
races under its flag. Had Cape Colony stood alone 
and Dutch racial sentiment not been stirred long after- 
wards by events far outside of its border, the propriety 
of the measure might never have been questioned 
even by Dr. Theal. But many years afterwards, 
in 1882, when Mr. Gladstone's surrender after Majuba 


Hill and the formation of the Africander liund had 
given the Dutch a new sense of power, and even, as 
was natural and indeed inevitable, a hope of ultimate 
supremacy, the Cape Parliament made the Dutch 
language again official. No one, of course, objects to 
that. But it is not altogether by legislation that the 
status of things is finally settled ; and it is a fact of 
some significance that after all Cape colonists like 
Olive Schreiner and Dr. Theal, in spite of their Dutch 
s)'mpathies, prefer to write their works in English. 

Other changes which the British Government made 
about this period were the alterations in the admin- 
istration of the laws. With the influx of a new 
British population, the old boards of the landdrost and 
heeniraden, which had combined all the functions of 
financial, judicial, and civil administration in a pater- 
nal kind of way, were considered inapplicable and 
out of date. Accordingly a new administration, with 
resident magistrates as judges, civil commissioners for 
ordinary business, and justices of peace throughout 
the district was created. Even Dr. Theal, in his 
History of the Boers, admits that " every one now 
recognises this to have been a beneficial measure." 
But in his later Histories, in his volume in the Story of 
the Nations series, for example, he has not a word to 
say in its favour, but speaks coldly of it, as well as 
of the substitution of an independent supreme court 
for the old burgher senate (heartily approved of in 


his larger History) as a " remodelling after the English 
pattern." He mixes it up with the question of the 
substitution of English for Dutch as the language of 
the courts, and concludes the subject ominously with 
these words : " And now was heard the first murmur- 
ing of a cry that a few years later resounded through 
the Colony, and men and women began to talk of the 
regions devastated by the Zulu wars, if it might not 
be possible there to find a refuge from British rule." 
Dr. Theal, like Gaika, is evidently " taking his seat by 
the fire," as he thinks the wind blows. 

It is easy to make general representations of 
this kind and not difficult even to find some con- 
temporary utterance which appears to justify them. 
Of course, every one may understand that there was 
a difference of opinion between many or most of the 
Boers and the Cape Government on such a question 
as the substitution of the new magistrates for the old 
ones ; but the difference was simply that which will 
always arise between the Government and a conser- 
vative or interested part of the population when the 
former introduces new and improved machinery into 
the State. We can all sympathise with the feelings 
of the Boers on this occasion, all of us at any rate 
who have a love for old names and old things ; but 
what they experienced then is what we have all 
experienced alike in matters of the State and matters 
of the parish, I felt a disagreeable shock myself 


when I found that the old town-crier with his hand- 
bell had been abolished in the small burgh where I 
was bred. But I admitted that the place had grown 
too large for his jurisdiction, and did not, like my 
grandmother, suspect any malice on the part of the 
new burgh commissioners. The Dutch colonist, it is 
true, is intensely conservative in his ways, and any 
change is more vexatious coming from the hand of 
a foreign governor. It was vexatious to lose the 
familiar old heeniraad that they had been accustomed 
to all their lives, and have him turned into a strange 
vredcrecliter or justice of the peace, even if he was the 
same man. All this may be readily granted, but 
it is a very different thing to represent this change, 
and that of the official language as a substantial 
grievance which led to the great trek. There is one 
fact alone which goes a long way to discredit such 
a view. These changes, as far as they were felt as 
grievances, were felt by every part of the Colony alike, 
while ninety-eight per cent, of the Boers who made 
the great trek, from 1836 to 1839, came from the old 
district of Graaff-Rcinet alone. There can be no 
clearer evidence that the troubles which caused that 
trek lay altogether in that frontier district. Indeed 
these administrative changes do not seem to have 
seriously disturbed the good relations which existed 
generally between the Ikitish authorities at the Cape 
and the mass of the Dutch colonists. The general 


reputation of the British rule for justice, and the 
security it gave to all legitimate interests, was too 
well established to be much affected by such 
differences, or by those which occasionally occurred 
at this time on the question of farm tenures. 

The Governor of Cape Colony during these im- 
portant events was Lord Charles Henry Somerset, 
who held office for the unusual term of twelve years, 
from 1814 to 1826. He was a member of the great 
Beaufort family, with connections high and powerful 
enough to obtain a practically free hand for him in 
the government of the Colony. He was an able man, 
of clear, prompt judgment, almost pouncing upon 
the thing he took in hand and straightening it out 
with a fine practical instinct for the immediate needs 
of the occasion. A few months after his arrival he 
set up a Government farm at the Bosch berg for 
provisioning the troops on the eastern frontier, and 
built granaries for storing grain purchased from the 
farmers, a great boon to the latter, saving transport 
and securing a steady market for them. After a look 
at the old experimental farm at Groote Post, managed 
in an easy way by a Board of Directors, he took 
it over into his own hands, imported a number of 
the best blood horses from England at his own 
expense, and improved the colonial breed so much 
that a considerable export trade to India and the 
Mauritius was the result. He was willing to help 


philanthropic work also when it did not stand in 
his way. He founded the Leper Asylum, and as 
a respectable British Governor, well aware of the 
existence of Wilberforce and the people at Surrey 
Chapel and Tottenham Court Road, not to speak 
of Henry Brougham and other Whig friends of 
humanity, he gave a discriminating patronage to 
missions, granted 7,000 more acres to the Moravian 
Brethren at Genadenthal (who never meddled with 
politics), and gave them another site at Enon, their 
first station in the frontier district. Many mission 
stations indeed, both within the Colony and without, 
were founded under his regime, for the evangelical 
and missionary spirit was rising ever higher in Britain 
in those days, and would not be denied. 

But at heart Lord Charles had no great opinion of 
the utility of mission stations, within the Colony at 
least, and set more value on the economical benefit 
to be got by dispersing the natives in the service of 
the Boers, than by bringing them under the influences 
of Christianity.^ He even refused to allow the 
Wesleyan missionary, Barnabas Shaw, who arrived in 
Africa in 18 16, to labour amongst the coloured people 
in the Cape district, on the pretext that it was con- 
trary to the Dutch laws of 1804, and that the feeling 
of the slaveholders was against it.^ In short. Lord 

^ See the "Journal of Missionary Anderson," quoted by 
Philip, vol. ii. p. 62. 
^ See Barnabas Shaw, Memorials of South Africa, p. 59. 


Charles was a man of practical temper in the matter 
of progress and reforms, in many ways not unequal 
to the great task he had undertaken, but incapable 
of appreciating any ideals of civilisation other than 
those already fixed and visible to his eyes. Between 
what was visionary in such things and what was a 
necessary element in the progress of humanity he 
could not well distinguish. 

As might be expected, therefore, his relations with 
the London Missionary Society, which was the special 
champion of the Hottentot race within the Colony, 
were always somewhat strained. Perhaps he resented 
the influence which this Society, and in particular its 
energetic chief, Dr. Philip, were able, through their 
relations with Fowell-Buxton, Wilberforce, and other 
leaders of the philanthropic societies, to exercise 
in colonial affairs. On Bethelsdorp particularly his 
hand was heavy in the way of restrictions and 
requisitions, and he seems to have received mostly 
in contemptuous silence the complaints which the 
missionaries there made with regard to his land- 
drost's exactions.^ 

The visit which he made in 1817 to the London 
Society's mission at the Kat River, under Mr. 
Williams, seems a fair specimen of the Colonial 
Government's attitude at this time towards those 

' See the official correspondence in Philip, vol. ii., pp. 


asylums for the natives. Poor Williams, an honest 
illiterate sort of man, Dr. Theal says (whom I quote 
a little fearfully), had not been many months at the 
station, and everything being new to him in that 
Kaffir country, had, without knowing it, given shelter 
to six runaway Hottentots at his settlement. His 
Lordship, not wishing to overwhelm the poor man, 
who had been useful in the negotiations with Gaika, 
gave him a gentlemanlike rebuke ; but our old friend, 
Colonel Cuyler, the landdrost of Uitenhage, told him 
in his hectoring way that " he had a damned 
deal better be somewhere else." Tom Sheridan, the 
eldest son of the famous orator, happened to be of 
the Governor's party — he was then Colonial Pay- 
master at the Cape — and having a soft Irish heart, or 
mindful perhaps of Charles Fox and his father's old 
battles, for all that was weak or oppressed, or " agin 
the Government," shook hands with Williams and 
wished him every success. " He is a gentleman I 
know nothing of," writes Williams, " but it did me 
good to think they were not all against me." 

There were some exceptions, but I think the 
feeling of the average British officer on the frontier 
towards Kaffirs and Hottentots was much the same 
as that of the Boers, and is fairly enough represented 
by what they said to Williams when he was passing 
the frontier posts on his way to the Kat River, " after 
they had sent a good lot of them to hell, it would be 


time to go and preach salvation to them, and not 
before." ^ We must remember that Mr. Fowell- 
Buxton, lecturing at Exeter Hall on the analogy 
between the African native and the savage Briton in 
Cffisar's time, and the British subaltern or major on the 
Kaffir frontier, are two very different and extreme 
specimens of the British mind in such matters. 

When Williams died in i8i8 Lord Somerset 
prohibited a successor proceeding to the Kat River 
station, and partly in this way, partly by direct 
measures, secured the dispersion of the Ghonaquas 
there amongst the Boers of Graaff-Reinet and 
Swellendam. He withdrew also the London 
Society's mission stations at Hephzibah and Trover- 
berg (modern Colesberg) as giving rise to disputes 
with the farmers over the possession of Bushmen 

Lord Charles Somerset, like many of the British 
Governors and Generals commanding in the colonies 
to-day, had a more difficult position to hold than the 
people at home were aware of, and with all the 
support that high connections could give him, he had 
no bed of roses as Governor of Cape Colony. With 
the British immigration of 1820 a large number of 
colonists, accustomed to representative government 
and a free criticism of their rulers, had been settled in 
the country. When the bad times came, many of 
^ Philip, vol. ii. p. 165. 


these were inclined to find fault with the Colonial 
Government, to complain of its arrangements, to 
demand any locations which their fancy pitched upon, 
as if land were as plentiful in Albany and as un- 
claimed as in the Great Karroo. Their instincts, of 
course, led them at once to {propose public meetings 
at Grahamstown with the view of ventilating their 
grievances. The time, it must be admitted, was not an 
opportune one for such fine constitutional usages. 
In 1822 the Colony, with some 6,000 British settlers, 
totally ignorant of the country, some 40,000 Dutch, 
and almost twice that number of slaves and 
Hottentots, was in no way ripe for self-government. 
A few discontented British might raise all that was 
unruly in the Dutch population. There was only 
one way then, and by his Proclamation of May 24th, 
1822, Lord Charles declared that " public meetings for 
the discussion of public measures, and political 
subjects " were " contrary to the law and usage of 
this place," and were prohibited accordingly. The 
Briton's birthright was taken away. 

More dangerous still, what might be called a 
Radical Opposition party had been formed at Cape- 
town. Thither Thomas Pringle, formerly of the 
Scotch location at the Baviaans' River, had gone, and 
in company with another ingenuous Scotch University 
youth, Fairbairn by name, had started a magazine, 
their heads full of all the Liberal and humanitarian 


ideas of that time, diffusion of economical and 
political knowledge amongst the people, lectures on 
chemistry and botany, societies for discussion and 
debate, with strong philanthropic views, of course, on 
the subject of the native races. Worse still, the two 
had, as editors, got command of the only newspaper 
(except the drowsy official Gazette) published in the 
Colony. Some very reputable society also gathered 
round them, amongst others Dr. Philip, the Superin- 
tendent of the London Missionary Society, George 
Thompson, W. T. Blair, of the East India Company's 
Civil Service, and Benjamin Moodie. Even some of 
the Cape Dutch, Sir John Truter and advocate Cloete, 
joined their Literary Society, being in sympathy with 
their constitutional ideals, and the question of eman- 
cipation being still, to all appearance, a remote one. 

The first number of the magazine, the South 
African Journal, published in March 1824, com- 
menced auspiciously with an essay from Mr. Fairbairn 
on the influence of the general diffusion of knowledge 
" in checking the abuses of despotic power," and with 
some verses of Pringle upon the " Suppression of a 
Constitutional Government in Spain." Excellent 
topics in a colony where the proclamation against 
public meetings had been so lately promulgated ! 
The second number contained an article on the 
" Prospects of the English Emigrants in South 
Africa," in which, amongst the causes of their 


distress, were mentioned, " an arbitrary system of 
government, and its natural consequences — abuse 
of power by local functionaries, monopolies, &c.," and 
" the vacillating and inefficient system pursued in 
regard to the Kaffirs." 

The journal was highly approved of by Mr. Henry 
Brougham at home, to whom it was duly sent by 
Pringle. One can understand, too, a certain feeling 
of complacency amongst some official persons, both 
Dutch and English, who "may at times have been 
handled rather summarily by that intelligent autocrat, 
the Governor. But the reader is perhaps in a position 
to consider for himself how far representative govern- 
ment and free Opposition criticism at that period 
were consistent with the existence of a British 
Governor at Capetown ; or with that of Pringle himself 
and his British journalism ; or with that of Pringle's 
father and brother on the forfeited lands of the 
Bezuidenhouts ; or with the editor's lofty philanthropic 
theories in favour of the native races. Not one of 
those things could have existed at that period along 
with a free poll of the white voters in Cape Colony, 
except in so far as the vis major of the British 
Empire supported them against the wishes of the 

The end of the quarrel was that the Governor 
established a censorship of the magazine and the 
newspaper, when both the editors and Greig, the 


publisher, announced that they would discontinue 
their publications rather than compromise their 
" birthright as British subjects." Lord Charles made 
some efforts to compromise the matter quietly, but 
Pringle stood haughtily on his rights, and the quarrel 
finally became one a /'o/etrancc,the Governor exerting 
all his influence to discountenance Pringle's schemes, 
especially his educational academy, and Pringle 
proclaiming to the world that a "Reign of Terror" 
existed at the Cape. At last Pringle concluded he 
had better leave the Colony, and, returning to England 
in 1826, was soon after made secretary of the Anti- 
Slavery Society. There he laboured " unwearied ly " 
along with Zachary Macaulay, Fowell-Buxton and 
others of that set at the great ideal of equal rights 
for the black races, contributing tales of the " Wrongs 
of Amakosa," and verses on expatriated Kaffirs, more 
than ever in the Campbell style, even to the 
Christmas Annuals of that day.^ He died in 
December 1834, having lived to see his hopes 
fulfilled. He was somewhat of a flaring lamp and 
soon burnt out, but he shone in a great darkness and 
helps wonderfully to light it up for us. 

It is evident, however, that the Colony was 

approaching a condition when it could no longer be 

satisfactorily ruled by a Governor's Proclamations. 

It is true that as far as possible the lines of legisia- 

^ See Friendship's Offering (which he edited) for 1833. 


tion were laid down by special Acts of Parliament 
in Great Britain, or orders in council, and also that 
the Governor's Proclamations had eventually to be 
approved and confirmed by the Secretary for the 
Colonies. But the fact that the members of the Court 
of Justice, even the Chief Justice himself, were de- 
pendent on the Governor's favour for their appoint- 
ment to the other civil situation which they might 
hold, and were removable at his pleasure, and also 
the fact that the Governor himself constituted the 
first Court of Appeal both in civil and criminal cases, 
put excessive power into the hands of one man. The 
powers of the Fiscal, too, an officer who was of course 
much under the influence of the Governor, were 
unusually extensive and rather incompatible with 
modern views of good government. He was public 
prosecutor and head of the police. " He may bring 
forward charges tyranically," writes Wilberforce Bird, 
a very competent authority, " or withhold them cor- 
ruptly. He may tease one part of the society by 
little vexatious police regulations, and indulge another 
part in less venial acts." But Bird admits that there 
is " no instance on record in which any one (of the 
Fiscals) has been convicted of undue partiality, or 
of abuse of power." ' I do not quite like the formal 

^ S/aie of the Cape of Good Hope in 1822, p. 18. Bird was a 
cautious, moderate, statistical sort of writer, and had been for 
many years a civil servant at the Cape. 



style of that testimony, but I think it is only Bird's 
stiff, official manner. 

The government of the Colony was certainly of an 
autocratic type, but it was, as even Dr. Theal admits, 
in the hands of honourable men, and it was an 
autocracy quite free from corruption and tempered 
always by the certainty that any real case of mal- 
administration or injustice would be investigated by 
the Home Government and surely punished. 

In ordinary circumstances freedom of speech is the 
best guarantee we can have of good government, but 
it does not follow that it always secures honest and 
pure government. It may be quite otherwise in some 
communities. Under Lord Charles the citizens of 
Capetown had to suppress their disapproval of the 
Government's measures or grumble them out only in 
the privacy of the domestic circle, but the Government 
itself was honest and pure. I am always surprised 
that Dr. Theal's industry finds so little in the way of 
public scandal against British governors and officials. 
What would he not have given for even a small 
matter like our rations scandal, or the mere suspicion 
of a Yukon deal ? It would be meat and drink to 
him. Under the New Americanism also, the citizens 
of New York may come out into the streets and 
shout aloud, if they like, against the rule of Boss 
Croker, but they are in the grasp of the machine and 
of a master-hand, before whose feats Sir George's 


little stretches of authority and timid assayings seem 
contemptible, almost a kind of virtuous restraint. 
Even the great dailies that once harried Tweed have 
become silent. All the same the American people 
usually know what they want and contrive to get it. 
The management of our modern great cities, those 
vast agglomerations from every nationality, has be- 
come a special kind of problem which is not quite 
the same thing as the administration of a small town 
in Cape Cod or the farming districts of Wisconsin. 
Perhaps they even act in some measure as depurating 
sinks to help the latter. There may be a good deal 
in Mr. Croker's own view that the people of New 
York accept his rule as the only alternative to that 
of Sectarians, Prohibitionists and Faddists, which 
would be too much for ordinary human nature. At 
least that is how I read one of his harangues, which 
claims that his victory at the polls is a victory for 
" the plain people." 

The Boers of the frontier, at any rate, had no fault 
to find with Lord Charles Somerset. His Border 
policy was designed largely with a view to meet their 
wants and desires. It fell to him, it is true, to suppress 
the Bezuidenhout rebellion (181 5), which he did with 
a firm hand, as we have seen ; he transferred, too, some 
of the most turbulent Bruintjes Hoogte men who had 
been out in that affair, to the Nieuwveld Mountains 
on the northern frontier, where they might expand to 

g 2 


their hearts' content with nothing but feeble and 
unorganised bands of Bushmen to oppose them. He 
disbanded the hated Hottentot corps on the grounds 
that it took " not only the men but their women also 
from the service of the farmers." He applied the 
opgaaf, or tax, to Hottentots residing at mission 
stations in so severe a manner, as practically to force 
any Hottentots who had not been fortunate or pros- 
perous to choose between the prison and service with 
the Boers. His landdrosts also were encouraged in 
a line of conduct towards the mission stations which 
was always strict, often severe, and occasionally quite 
arbitrary. The result was that while the Radical 
party and the emigrants were sending complaints 
and petitions against the Governor, the Boers of the 
frontier were presenting testimonials and addresses in 
support of him. So much progress, at any rate, had 
the titular author of the execution of the Slachter's 
Nek rebels made in their favour. 

What pleased them most, no doubt, was the en- 
couragement he gave to their territorial expansion, 
and particularly the prospect he opened up for them 
of gaining possession of the long coveted lands of 
the Kaffir in the Koonap valley. 

Since i8ii,when Sir John Cradock had expelled 
the Kaffirs from the Zuurveld, the Fish River had 
been the real as well as nominal boundary between 
the Colony and the Kaffirs. In 1817 Lord Charles 


took the frontier business in hand, and proceeding 
with a strong guard to the Kat Kiver summoned the 
chief Gaika to an interview. The barbaric chief 
seems no longer to have been what he was when Dr. 
Vanderkemp first saw him eighteen years before at 
the same place, a proud and majestic figure, receiving 
the white man's overtures somewhat condescendingly. 
That long experience of the growing and irresistible 
power of the race that was pressing on his frontier 
had evidently cowed him, and he came to meet the 
British Governor in fear and trembling, only partly 
reassured by the presence of the missionary Williams. 
Indeed he seems hardly to have known what to make 
of the civilisation that confronted him. On the one 
hand there were its missionaries, the Vanderkemps 
and Reads, who came to him with messages of peace 
and good-will- on earth amongst men, and on the 
other hand there were the Boers, who called them- 
selves Christen MenscJie and shot his Kaffirs, offensive 
and inoffensive, plunderers or peace envoys, like dogs ; 
and there were the British authorities who, as he 
afterwards said, " oppressed while they protected 
him." So when his Lordship was exacting conditions 
and laying down the strictest law of reprisals, to all 
of which Gaika could do nothing but agree, as far as 
his tribe was concerned, the savage chief who knew 
very well, below all questions of depredations and 
reprisals, who were the real aggressors, who first 


massacred the Imidange years ago, burst out abruptly 
into some questions which WilHams seems to think 
irrelevant. " What is the missionary come into this 
land for ? " His Lordship answered, " To teach you the 
Word of God."— "Who has sent him?" asked the chief 
The Governor replied that Williams had been sent by 
the friends of Christianity over the world, through the 
medium of the English Government ; and that there- 
fore he (the Governor) was bound to protect him. 
Gaika, not having got to his point yet, then asked his 
Excellency, "how he should understand the Word," 
a question which quite non-plussed his Excellency, 
who abandoned the discussion at this staee. 

Gaika indeed seems to have done his best, as far as 
his power went, to keep faith with the Government, 
but his authority at this time was much weakened 
amongst his countrymen, the recent events in the 
Zuurveld not being of a kind to set his prudent policy 
of peace at any price in a favourable light with them. 
A prophet, too, had arisen amongst the Amakosa, a 
warrior-priest, who had acquired even more influence 
amongst the western Kaffirs than their hereditary 
chiefs, and now threw that influence wholly into the 
scale against Gaika as a pusillanimous ruler, who was 
afraid to maintain the rights of his race. 

Makana, according to general testimony, was a man 
of high intellect and commanding character. He had 
frequented Dr. Vanderkemp's mission at Bethelsdorp, 


and had received from him and from the Missionary 
Vanderlingen some idea of Christianity, which he had 
assimilated with some vague Kaffir notions of his 
own regarding the government of the universe. In 
his role of prophet he was accustomed to address his 
people in high mysterious harangues, as they seemed 
to Read and other missionaries, not the best of inter- 
preters in such cases ; he even at times attempted to 
perform miracles, and was no more abashed than 
Mohammed when they failed. He had a profound 
sense of the danger to his race from the encroaching 
civilisation of the white man, more so perhaps than 
events have justified, owing to the humane policy of 
the British Government. Pringle, who came out to 
Africa shortly after Makana's rising, and knew his 
story well, has interpreted his sentiments for us in a 
poem, which he calls Makana's Gathering : 

Wake ! Amakosa, wake ! 
And arm yourselves for war. 

Hark ! 'tis Uhlanga's voice 

From Debe's mountain caves ! 
He calls on you to make your choice— 

To conquer or be slaves : 
To meet proud Amanglezi's guns, 

And fight like warriors nobly born ; 
Or like Umlawu's feeble sons,' 

Become the foeman's scorn. 

To Makana the policy of Gaika seemed both 
• The Hottentot race. 


cowardly and futile,^ and he exerted all his influence 
to unite the different Kosa clans in an attempt to 
break the power of the wily old chief. For a time 
the attempt was successful. In the great fight of 
Amalinde, in 1818, Gaika's warriors were completely 
routed by Makana's strategy, and he was only 
saved from destruction by the interference of the 
British Governor, who sent troops to his aid. The 
Kosa patriots under Ndlambe and Makana then 
invaded the district of Albany, their old Zuurveld 
home, and made an assault on Grahamstown. The 
assault was repelled by the troops stationed there, 
and a large force of burghers and soldiers was 
soon afterwards assembled for a punitive expedi- 
tion into Kaffirland. The invading clans were 
driven to the Kei with great loss of life and cattle. 
Makana gave himself up to the government in 
order to prevent his people being hunted into 
starvation, and was drowned some time afterwards 
in an attempt to escape from his prison at Robben 
Island. That was the end of the great attempt he 
had organised to turn the tide of the white man's 
invasion of Kaffir territory. His memory, like that 
of British Arthur and German Barbarossa, was per- 
petuated amongst his people by a tradition that he 

1 " Gaika shall never rule over the followers of those who 
think him a woman, ' was the contemptuous speech of one of 
Makana's heutenants to the British commandant. 


would again appear, in the hour of need, to lead 
them to victory, and it was not till 1873, Theal 
says, that his mats and ornaments were sorrowfully 
buried, according to custom, by his countrymen. 

It was not the policy of the British authorities at 
this time to alarm the Kaffir by occupying his terri- 
tory at once, but Lord Charles judged it was a 
good opportunity for pushing him further back. 
The need also of a more assured frontier than that 
afforded by the jungles of the Fish River seems 
to have been felt by the military authorities. The 
chiefs were not always able, even if they were 
willing, entirely to repress the plundering instincts 
of their followers, nor was the government able to 
prevent the more lawless of the farmers from cross- 
ing the boundary to drive an illicit trade in cattle. 
The British Governor therefore hit upon the ex- 
pedient of creating a neutral belt of territory between 
the colonist and the Kaffir. He demanded from 
Gaika the cession of the land between the Fish River 
and the Keiskamma, including that region of the Kat 
and Koonap rivers on which the Boers had long had 
an eye. Gaika was in no position to refuse, and 
besides, his tribe had but lately owed its existence 
to the British Governor's intervention. But he re- 
quested that his favourite kraal at the head waters 
of the Tyumie, the most fertile valley in Kaffirland, 
should be left to him. The cession .seems to have 


been made on the understanding that the territory 
was to remain unoccupied. Mihtary outposts and 
patrols were estabhshed to repress aHke the aggres- 
sions of the Boer and the thieving habits of the 
Kaffir. The extra expenditure for the defence of 
the frontier often fell heavy on the British Treasury, 
amounting to about ^100,000, and latterly ^^300,000 
a year, with an additional half-million thrown in 
when war broke out. " Every acre of ground in Cape 
Colony," writes Mr. Boyce {Noies on South Africa), 
" has already been paid for by the British Treasury 
at a rate ten times its actual value." 

It was unfortunate that the neutrality of the ceded 
territory was hardly long enough respected by the 
Colonial Government to convince the Kaffirs that the 
arrangement had been made in good faith. In 1820 
Lord Charles Somerset was absent on leave, and the 
acting-Governor, Sir Rufane Donkin, with the consent 
of Gaika, allowed a number of the officers and men 
of the Royal African Corps, as well as some Scotch 
settlers under Mr. B. Moodie, to occupy the southern 
part of it. On the other hand Lord Charles Somerset 
soon after his return permitted Gaika's son, Makoma, 
to re-occupy the valley of the Kat River, and in 1825 
he at last rewarded the fidelity of the frontier Boers 
by extending the boundary of the Colony to the 
Koonap River, and throwing open that part of the 
neutral or ceded territory for them alone, on the 


ground that they were best accustomed to border 
warfare. More than a hundred Boer families at once 
passed over the old frontier and took up the land 
" unto the Koonap." The Radical opposition and 
the " friends of humanity," however, protested, and 
Earl Bathurst was obliged to write Lord Charles 
Somerset, disapproving of his action as at least an 
undesirable extension of slavery. The Boers, there- 
fore, who had not actually set up house there, were 
recalled ; the rest of them, about fifty families, were 
allowed to remain, on condition of not employing 
slave labour. But the important question on the 
eastern frontier w^as not that of slave labour, but 
of raids, reprisals, and territorial rights, and with 
the Boers at the Koonap, and Makoma at the Kat, 
some twelve or fifteen miles intervening, the prospects 
of tranquillity on the frontier were not very bright. 

Lord Somerset's proceedings in this and other 
matters had aroused a strong feeling against him in 
certain circles at home. Henry Brougham, that 
friend of humanity, especially when oppressed by 
Tories, had actually undertaken to impeach him, 
and Earl Bathurst in 1826 was obliged to recall him 
" to give explanations." A change of ministry took 
place soon after the arrival of Lord Charles, which 
induced him to send in his resignation, and the pro- 
posed impeachment, by general consent, fell to the 
ground. His twelve years' rule had been on the whole 


a strong, consistent and intelligent administration. 
He had had three great ends in view, all of which 
he pursued with vigour and success. The first was 
the establishment of the British supremacy on a 
solid basis of laws, institutions, and education ; the 
second was the satisfaction of the economical needs 
of the Boers on the northern and the eastern frontier 
as regards both land and cheap native service ; and 
the third was the industrial development of the 
Colony. With regard to that other great question 
which confronted every Governor at the Cape, the 
condition of the slaves and native races, his policy 
went little farther than securing them as far as he 
could from personal violence, and protecting them 
in the enjoyment of rights, which are those of serfs. 
He could not get over the fact that anything more, 
anything in the direction of improving their legal 
status, seemed at that time incompatible with the 
economical needs, and with the universal sentiment 
of a community which depended on cheap native 
labour. In this respect the policy of the British 
Governors had been the same throughout since Lord 
Caledon's Proclamation of 1809. Any protective 
legislation which really differed from that in its 
principle or aims came from another source alto- 
gether, from the influence, namely, which the great 
philanthropic and missionary societies had now begun 
to exercise on the Government at home. 


The Philanthropic Societies in Great Britain — The Heroic Age 
of EvangeHcal Work and Literature — Protective Legisla- 
tion for the Slaves — The Dutch Evangelical Circle at the 
Cape — Dr. John Philip and his Researches in South Africa 
— The Emancipation of the Hottentot Race — An Old-time 
Speech at Surrey Chapel. 

The great missionary and philanthropic societies 
in England constituted the real moving force behind 
all the ameliorative legislation on behalf of the slaves 
and native races in South Africa. With the com- 
mencement of the nineteenth century there was an 
extraordinary growth of missionary enterprise and 
humanitarian enthusiasm in Great Britain. Before 
that, most of the great work in this field had been 
done by Catholicism, by Jesuit Fathers and the Con- 
gregation De Propaganda Fide in the Indies, in Brazil 
and Canada. But in the first quarter of the century 
England became alive with societies, various in their 
denomination and field of work, but all of a philan- 
thropic and evangelical character, and most of them 
specially bent on the extension of Christianity to the 


heathen and of the benefits which should accompany 
it. The Protestant Missionary stations seemed to 
cover the earth with a rush. The great Parisian 
paper of those days, the Debats, was moved to take 
special notice of this new Protestant activity, and was 
inclined to look somewhat suspiciously on it, divining 
it to be a subtle political movement of the perfide 
Albion. Protestant Germany, Denmark, and especially 
Holland, had their share in the work, but they were 
neither wealthy enough, nor sufficiently united to 
produce that almost national current of enthusiasm 
which flowed over the British Isles from London to 
Aberdeen and Ulster. Nor were they perhaps, as 
Pastor Stracke, corresponding member in East Fries- 
land, frankly confesses to the Directors of the London 
Missionary Society, quite so exalted in their devotion 
to the cause.^ 

The backbone of the movement lay in the Non- 
conformist clergy and the evangelical section of the 
Church of England, but it was strongly supported 

1 " They (' the German brethren ') confess before the Lord, 
with unfeigned tears, that they are not so devoted to Him with 

their whole heart as they perceive you, dear brethren, are 

And, finally, to many persons in Germany, new (missionary) 
institutions seemed to be superfluous, or at least that they were 
precluded by the incomparable institution of the Moravian 
Brethren, and that at Halle, which may and ought to be con- 
sidered as the parent of all similar societies which have arisen 
in the course of the past century."— Pastor Stracke in the 
Missionary Magazine, 1801, p. 211. 


by many eminent men and politicians of that time 
like Sir James Mackintosh, Wilberforce, Henry 
Brougham, Fowell-Buxton, Hon. Charles Grant, 
Spring Rice, and others. Not a little, indeed, of the 
moral and intellectual energy of the British people 
was taking this road in these days. That line, or 
Pusey and Newman's, with a corresponding interest 
in Apostolical Succession and Orders, seems to have 
been the alternative for the actively religious. I do 
not know that in every case the philanthropic zeal 
displayed was quite disinterested. The movement was 
a powerful one which drew men of all kinds into it, 
ambitious orators and politicians as well as devout 
evangelicals. But to many of them, men like William 
Wilberforce and Zachary Macaulay, the work of the 
African Institution, or the BintisJi and Foreign Bible 
Society, or the London Missionary Society, or the 
Baptist Missionary Society, or the Church Missionary 
Society, or the Wesleyan, Glasgozv, Edinlmr-gJi and 
Ulster Societies, was as the breath of life and the 
best part of their religion. 

The ordinary anniversary meetings of the larger 
societies were more like a great political gathering of 
our time than anything else, in their numbers and 
enthusiasm. The reader may imagine the scene at 
Freemason's, or Exeter Hall, or Surrey Chapel, or 
Tottenham Court Road on these occasions. Anything 
from two to four thousand people present, mostly of 


strict evangelical type ; on the platform eminent 
divines without number, the Rev. Rowland Hill of the 
Church of England, the Rev. Jabez Bunting of the 
Wesleyans, the Rev. John Eyre of Hackney, the Rev. 
Ralph Wardlaw of Glasgow, and the Rev. Ebenezer 
Brown of Inverkeithing, with others not less well 
known in their day ; for laymen Wilberforce, Fowell- 
Buxton, Zachary Macaulay, Mr. Nisbet, the cele- 
brated bookseller of Berners Street, Mr. Whitmore 
of the Bank of England ; also Parliamentary hands 
like Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, Spring Rice and the 
Hon. Charles Grant (afterwards as Lord Glenelg and 
Colonial Secretary wielding a decisive influence at a 
critical juncture in South African affairs) ; not un- 
frequently also Henry Brougham with his impetuous 
oratory, poor enough to read now, but of singular 
effect at the time ; and Lord Calthorpe or Lord 
Gambler in the chair. The composition of the meet- 
ing varied a little according as it was the African- 
Institution or the London Missionary Society^ but 
nearly all I have mentioned were likely to be present 
at both. They were not only a formidable body of 
men in themselves, but they had nearly the whole of 
the evangelical and nonconformist middle-classes at 
their back, with votes not as yet swamped by Mr. 
Gladstone's franchise. 

Amongst these institutions the London Missionary 
Society, as one of the largest and least denominational 


in its character/ played an important part in col- 
lecting and distributing information, particularly 
regarding South Africa, and in furnishing a strong 
centre for the expression of opinion in evangelical 

The powerful evangelical literature of that time 
also, with Cowper at its head, helped not a little to 
fan the flame of missionary zeal. Wilberforce's 
Practical View of the Religion of Professed Christians 
and Clarkson's pamphlets sold by the thousands, as a 
popular novel does now\ Much of the religious and 
a good deal even of the popular poetry of the day, 
from Hannah More and Montgomery to the verses 
of Serena, Leonora, and Alzira in the evangelical 
magazines, turned its harp for the cause of missions 
and of the oppressed negro, though I think Heber 
bore away the bell with his famous From Greenland's 
Icy Mountains^^ the Dissenting Muse, somehow, rarely 
being of first-rate quality. 

After the suppression of the Ocean Slave-Trade in 
1807, the attention of the Societies, as far as political 
work was concerned, was chiefly directed to the 
improvement of the condition of the slave population 
in the British Colonies. Their influence is marked by 

^ It had a special support from the Independent Church, but 
for many years, at least, it was a general Protestant Society and 
had clergymen of all denominations amongst its members. 

'^ Contributed to the Evangelical Magazine in 1822. 



a succession of protective enactments in South Africa 
which regulated ever more strictly the master's con- 
trol of his slaves. In 1816 a register of slaves and 
of slave births was opened in each district for the 
inspection of the landdrost. No more Dirks to be 
carried out in the night-time and no questions asked ; 
no more black things to be baked in ovens by angry 
Boer matrons ! The grandfather of Olive Schreiner's 
tale must have been very indignant. But that was 
only the beginning. In 1823 a new series of enact- 
ments appeared ; no slave to do labour except of 
necessity on the Sabbath day ; slave husband and 
wife not to be sold apart, nor children under ten to be 
separated from them ; slaves might acquire property 
of their own by any honest means ; they should 
not labour in the field more than ten hours a day in 
winter and twelve in summer, except in ploughing or 
harvesting, when they should receive payment for the 
extra hours ; in towns and villages slave children 
should be sent to school at least three days in each 
week ; not more than twenty-five cuts with a rod 
should be inflicted on a slave, and punishment should 
not be repeated within twenty-four hours. In 1826 
assistant " protectors " of slaves were appointed in 
the country districts to see that the regulations 
were properly carried out. It was all very proper, 
of course, and as much needed in the interests 
of the masters themselves as of the slaves ; some 


consciousness of that, one can see, was growing 
amongst Dutch farmers of the better sort. But if in 
the most civiHsed and settled communities of our 
time philanthropic legislation of this kind, the 
enactments regarding seamen's food and accommo- 
dation on board ship, for example, has generally been 
received at first with much shaking of heads and 
mutterings about the encouragement given to a 
class already hard enough to keep in order, you can 
imagine what masters of the Bezuidenhout type 
would feel. Even the better class of them might be 
irritated, as Dr. Theal says they were, at having to 
give as a right what they formerly accorded as a 
grace and got gratitude for. 

It must not be forgotten, however, that there was 
also a Dutch evangelical circle at the Cape, and even 
a certain number of the Boers who were in sympathy 
with the aims of the missionaries, and gave them 
all the assistance they could. Dr. Vanderkemp on 
his arrival at Capetown had found a small band 
of " serious people," Vanderpoels, Vandersandes, 
Heysses, and, most prominent amongst them, pious 
women like Mrs. Smit, and widow Moller, who lent 
their houses for slave meetings, and formed them- 
selves into a South African Society, to which the 
wealthy Mrs. Moller contributed 15,000 guilders, to 
help the London missionaries in their labours. In 
1 80 1 they numbered over two hundred, and were 

R 3 


giving instruction in an unofficial sort of way to 
nineteen hundred heathen in Capetown, Stellenbosch, 
Paarl, and the neighbouring districts. But they were 
a small and uninfiuential party even amongst their 
own countrymen. Dr. Theal hardly notices them, 
and they were never able to stir the Dutch Reformed 
Church into any official action. The Rev. Mr. Vos, 
of Roodezand, was the only active labourer, says 
Read, in the mission field.^ In 1817, when the Rev. 
Mr. Thorn, who was then a missionary of the London 
Society, applied for leave to build a mission chapel 
for slaves at Capetown, the Governor (Lord Charles 
Somerset) referred his application to the Dutch 
Reformed Church. That body accordingly met to 
consider the subject, but broke up without coming 
to an agreement.^ In the same magazine Mr. Bakker, 
the London Society's missionary at Stellenbosch, 
complains that he is not allowed to baptize the 
coloured converts, or administer the Sacrament to 
them. But in spite of official lethargy on the part 
of the Dutch Reformed Church, owing to the pre- 
judices of the majority of its adherents, there was 
always a number of Good Samaritans amongst the 
Dutch, although their associations for missionary 

1 The best account of the Dutch Evangelical circles and their 
work is in the Missionary Magazine for 1801, pp. 84, 165, 213, 
258, 298. 

2 Missionary Register^ 1818, p. 274. 


work had generally to fall back on the ever-ready 
London Society for support.^ 

In England the tide of philanthropy was rising 
steadily, and its force at this time was materially in- 
creased by a man whose name is now scarcely known, 
except to students of South African history. Dr. John 
Philip, once minister of the Independent Church at 
Aberdeen, had come out to the Cape in 18 19 as 
superintendent of the London Missionary Society's 
work in that quarter. He was a Scotchman, the 
son of a Kirkcaldy weaver, but had been well edu- 
cated at the Hoxton Academy in Shoreditch, then a 
celebrated seminary for Nonconformist clergymen. 
He was a man of indefatigable energy, eloquent in 
speech, and with an unquenchable enthusiasm and 
belief in his mission which feared nothing. The 
idea which inspired Philip's work was the establish- 
ment of legal equality as far as possible between the 
white and the coloured races. He held that it was 
impossible to educate or civilise the native races 
effectually, as long as they were kept under legal 
disabilities which degraded them and left them to 
a great extent at the mercy of Boer magistrates. 
On this point his views were those of the mis- 
sionaries generally, but his superior ability and 
energy in advocating them gave the work of the 
London Missionary Society special political import- 
See Missionary Register, 1833, p. 15. 


ance. There were of course differences of opinion 
amongst them, and there was in particular a differ- 
ence between their attitude and that of the pastors 
of the State Church, even where the latter were 
British, generally Scotch, by birth. Dr. George 
Thom, for example, whose sphere of work lay in 
the civilised region of Caledon and Capetown, under 
the very eye of the Governor, admitted that some 
of the Dutch farmers might occasionally be cruel to 
their slaves and Hottentots, while missionaries like 
Stephen Kay and James Read, whose experience had 
been in the Eastern provinces amongst the frontier 
Boers, spoke more decisively on the subject. In 1822 
Dr Thom wrote to the editors of the Missionary 
Register} as if he saw nothing in the status of the 
Hottentots which required improvement. " They 
are not held in subjection," he writes. " They are 
a free people ; but must be in some employment, 
or possess land, or hire themselves to others." The 
Doctor does not add the fourth alternative, to be 
locked up in the jail and treated as vagabonds, which 
after all sounds like a considerable limitation on a 
" free people." When the Doctor says, further, that 
" they cannot be punished, as a slave ; nor ill-used, 
such as by beating," &c., he may be representing 
their condition quite fairly as he sees it at Caledon, 
fifty miles from Capetown ; but he evidently knows 
^ See January number. 



little of what goes on in distant Uitenhage and 
Graafif-Reinet. How should he, 600 miles away, 
in a country where communication was casual and 

It was Dr. Philip, the Las Casas of South Africa, 
Pringle calls him, who first brought the condition 
of the Hottentot, as distinguished from that of the 
slave, clearly before his countrymen at home. In 
1826 he visited Great Britain, and showed his usual 
energy in interviewing influential M.P.'s and heads of 
departments, and in making speeches at the meetings 
of the various philanthropic societies throughout the 
country, from the African Institution to the Sunder- 
land School Union. 

While in England Dr. Philip also published a work, 
Researches in South Africa, which is the most com- 
plete statement of the missionary's case in that region 
ever made public. Dr. Philip's book goes over a 
great deal of ground, and includes some historical 
and debateable matter, as well as the facts which 
came within his own experience as the superintendent 
of the London Missionary Society in South Africa. 
In the historical controversial part of his book he 
presents his case, just as Dr. Theal does his, without 
any real attempt to appreciate the needs, or diflfi- 
culties, or justifications of the other side. But then 
we must remember he is not properly a historian or 
economist, calmly weighing both sides, but a mis- 


sionary, advocating the cause of the black race. The 
Researches in South Africa, however, is of consider- 
able value, as embodying the extensive experience 
of the author regarding missionary methods, special 
accounts of particular missions, casual glances and 
observations at native manners and customs, inter- 
views with well-known persons of that time, doings 
and sayings of Hottentot Captain Boezak or Bush- 
man chief Uithalder, and a mass of similar informa- 
tion, all chosen no doubt to represent and illustrate 
the plaintiff's case mainly, but none the less valuable 
to the true historian, and quite reliable where the 
writer gives his own experience. Dr. Philip, too, has 
the good habit of quoting directly the original records, 
the journals and letters of other missionaries, on 
which his views are based. But his book is of par- 
ticular value, as showing the actual working, in the 
eastern districts at least, of the legislation of 1809 ^"^^ 
181 2 regarding Hottentots. The Appendix alone, 
with the official correspondence of Bethelsdorp and 
Theopolis, will show the reader, by means of authen- 
tic documents, a side of this subject which Dr. Theal 
passes over in silence.^ 

In a book, however, which is practically filled with 
cases of injustice to the Hottentots drawn from 

1 Dr. Theal says of Dr. Philip's book, " For historical pur- 
poses its only value is the exposition of the views of its author 
with reg^ard to the colonists and coloured races.' 


various sources, sometimes from his own observation, 
sometimes from documentary evidence or the reports 
of friends, it is not easy to escape a single doubtful 
or mistaken case. Amongst the many cases 
Dr. Philip gives there was at least one implicating 
Mr. Mackay, the landdrost of Somerset, in which he 
seems to have been mistaken. It looks a curious 
affair as it stands in Theal's page (chap, xxxv., 
p. 348) without any hint of the details, a curious 
affair for a devout and sincere man to figure in. But 
we must bear in mind that this case was no simple 
tale of inhumanity in the use of the sjambok, but a 
rather complicated question of the law of contract,^ 
and that it was explicitly stated in Philip's book as 
given not on his own authority, but that of an 
" intelligent and respectable friend." The friend was 
Thomas Pringle (who accepted full responsibility for 
the statements), and no sane man will ever believe 
that the author of African Sketches was guilty of 
deliberate slander. Mr. Mackay, who had been a 
favourite with Lord Charles Somerset, sued Dr. Philip 
for libel and was granted damages to the extent of 
;if20O, the judges, English, and of the new indepen- 
dent class, declaring the account to be a " false and 
malicious libel." But at that time the feeling both of 
official circles in Capetown and of the farms was very 
strong against Philip, Pringle and the Radical party 
^ See the case in Philip, vol. i. p. 185. 


as they called it, generally — the emancipation of the 
Hottentots from the pass and apprenticeship laws had 
just been effected. The Directors of the London 
Missionary Society after considering the case held 
that Dr. Philip " had been tried in the midst of local 
prejudice and without benefit of jury," and declared 
their " undisturbed and perfect confidence " in him. 

But I must get back to my account of the work 
the missionary societies were doing at home. In 
1826, the year Dr. Philip went to England, the 
evangelical magazines report a decided increase of 
public interest in missionary work, and from that 
time onwards to 1833, the date of the emancipation 
of the slaves, the tide was rising to its flood. In 
some denominations almost every congregation of 
importance in the country had its auxiliary branch 
working in connection with the headquarters in 
London, or Glasgow, or Edinburgh, and since 1823 
the famous Anti-Slavery Society had been added to 
the list of Metropolitan institutions. Dr. Philip's 
book also, his speeches at missionary meetings and 
his personal contact with Fowell-Buxton and other 
leaders of evangelical circles, had evidently a consider- 
able influence on the course of events. In July 1828, 
some months after the publication of the Researches, 
Fowell-Buxton, supported by Brougham, Mackintosh, 
and others, gave notice in the House of Commons of 
a motion to extend full lesral rights to the Hottentot 


race at the Cape by abolishinp^ the pass and appren- 
ticeship laws. But before the day of debate came, 
the Colonial Secretary, who did not have, in this case, 
the great West Indian and shipping interests to 
contend with, gave way without a discussion, and 
promised that an Order in Council should be issued 
in accordance with the demands of the reformers. 
By a curious coincidence, almost at the same time as 
Fowell-Buxton was bringing his motion before the 
House, the Colonial Government (Acting-Governor 
General Bourke) issued the Fiftieth Ordinance 
(17th July, 1828), which gave the Hottentots the 
same legal rights as the colonists. General Bourke 
was a very humane man, and we need not therefore 
suspect him of stealing the clothes of the reformers, 
but evidently the two years' work of Philip in 
England had made the measure a necessity. 

There was much jubilation amongst the " saints 
and philanthropists, " as they were called, over this 
victory. At the next anniversary of the London 
Missionary Society the eloquent Fowell-Buxton, after 
referring in complimentary terms to " the able and 
interesting work of my reverend friend. Dr. Philip," 
congratulated his hearers on the progress the cause 
was making in South Africa : 

No longer than a year ago, the natives of British Africa were 
creatures without rights, without freedom, without hope- 
creatures who crouched before their lords, who presided over 


their liberties and their lives. Now, how different is the pic- 
ture ! .... By a glorious act of justice has he (the Hottentot) 
been admitted into — has he been, I should rather say, re-in- 
stated in — the great Family of Man. 

The orator tlien proceeded to remind his audience, 
wisely enough, of the work that lay before them to 
save this mass of undisciplined humanity suddenly 
set free, from lapsing into vice and indolence, and 
closed his address with the famous parallel between 
the African natives and the Britons of Caesar's time, 
much in favour with the " friends of humanity " of 
that time. 

I know not what will be the result of this measure ; but I 
will say, that if you have done something — more, much more, 
remains to be done. On you depends the solution of a problem 
of vast, of incalculable importance to humanity. It is this — ■ 
" What will be the effect of liberty suddenly granted to an 
enslaved people ? " There will, be assured, be many to rejoice, 
if you fail — many to exult, if they are enabled to say, " You see 
what you have done ! You see now, that the Hottentots refuse 
to labour ! " And how pleased will such men be, if they can 
exclaim, " Your boon of liberty was bad ! " Persevere then, I 
beseech you ; not only for the sake of the natives of South 
Africa, but for the sake of the millions who have been and are 
trodden down under the iron heel of Oppression. Show your 
adversaries, prove to this country, what the Bible has done and 
can do. ... I have said that we cannot now even conjecture 
what will be the effects of the regeneration of South Africa. It 
may seem visionary, it may appear idle, to indulge in such views 
as those in which I am not ashamed to indulge ; but I confess I 
do hope, and it is probable — at least it is in no way impossible 
— that a day will come when the now ignorant natives of South 
Africa shall be our rivals — the rivals even of Great Britain — in 


science and in knowledge. . . . The classic historian tells us, 
that, some centuries ago, a Roman army headed by their most 
illustrious chief, visited a small and obscure island of the 
Atlantic, where the people were brutal and degraded, and as 
wild as the wildest beasts ; and the then chief orator of Rome, 
in writing to a friend, said, " There is a slave-ship arrived in the 
Tiber, laden with slaves from this island : " but he adds, " don't 
take one of them ; they are not fit for use." This very island 
was Britain ; and the slaves of Britain were then considered, 
by the Roman orator, as unworthy to be even the slaves of a 
Roman noble I . . . . May not, then, a day arrive, when the 
sons of these wretched and degraded Africans will run with you 
the race of religion and morality, and even outstrip you in the 
glorious career ? But it is of little matter to inquire whether or 
not such an event will ever happen : one thing is certain — this 
country has now opened to Africa a way by which thousands 
may be, and will be, admitted to the enjoyment of greater privi- 
leges than this world could ever furnish — a channel of admission 
to the joys of eternal life ! ^ 

A very fair specimen of that by-gone eloquence of 
" the saints," from one of the most eloquent amongst 
them, the wealthy amd evangelical brewer, Mr. 

As to the strictly economical results of the Fiftieth 
Ordinance, we have the testimonies collected by 
Pringle (see pp. 266-268 of his Narrative), that 
though some petty disorders, as might be expected, 
prevailed for a time amongst some of the freed 
Hottentots, there was nothing serious in this way, 
and the great majority of them remained quiet and 
orderly, taking service just as before with the farmers. 
^ Missionary Register, June, 1829, p. 252. 


An official authority even declares " that it was a 
matter of remark that crime amongst the coloured 
population had of late greatly diminished, not only 
in the number but in the character of the offences." 

There was a great outcry raised against the Fiftieth 
Ordinance as long as it was only known to have the 
authority of General Bourke and the Colonial 
Government. Even at Capetown and the uniformly 
quiet district of Stellenbosch there were strong re- 
monstrances addressed to the Government, and the 
ruin of the Colony was freely predicted for the want 
of labourers and herdsmen. The outcry came not 
only from the Boers, but from many of the British 
settlers also, who were just as eager to compel cheap 
native labour. 


The Whigs and " Friends of Humanity" in Power — Emancipa- 
tion of the Slaves — Dr. Theal on the Defects of the 
Measure — Attempts to Re-introduce a Vagrancy Act 
Defeated — Whites and Blacks. 

The Hottentot race had now been emanci- 
pated, but the much more difficult question of the 
emancipation of the slaves proper still remained. 
This meant direct confiscation of property, affected 
great interests at home, and involved economic 
changes in the West Indian colonies of a much more 
serious and extensive kind than anything that could 
happen in Cape Colony. But the Societies continued 
to work with the confidence and ardour of those who 
feel that the forces of the time are with them. In 
1830 the Whigs, with Lord Grey at their head and 
Brougham and Charles Grant in the Cabinet, came 
into office. The " Friends of Humanity " were now 
in the saddle, and emancipation of the slaves was 
clearly within sight. The shrewd Graaff-Reineters, 
at any rate, those fathers of the Transvaal Boer, saw 


how the tide was going, and understanding how 
vain it was to attempt to stop it by mere opposition, 
they tried to turn it. On this occasion they came 
forward with a proposal which certainly met with the 
approval of the Dutch colonists generally. It was 
to the effect that " after a date, to be fixed by the 
Government, all female children should be free at 
birth, in order that slavery might gradually cease." 
The proposal was coupled with some conditions for 
the removal of the restrictions placed on the masters 
by the new legislation : " no new legislation other 
than provisions for the severe punishment of actual 
ill-treatment should be imposed on the slave-holders." 
What Graafif-Rei net's proposals amounted to was 
this : that they could keep the slaves they had, and 
all male slaves to be born as long as any female slave 
then existing was capable of bearing children. I 
calculate that on Graaff-Reinet's proposal the institu- 
tion of slavery would have existed with increasing 
numbers till the middle of the century at least, and 
after that in a slowly decaying form, till the present 
time, when there might still have been, under the 
Graaff-Reinet arrangement, many thousand slaves 
for life in the Colony. Such is the proposal which 
Dr. Theal mentions with grave complacency. " The 
GraafF-Reinet proposals," he says in his larger history, 
" were generally accepted throughout the Colony as a 
reasonable basis for the extinction of slavery, and a 


law founded on them would certainly have met with 
public approval." I don't doubt it. There are few 
who would make much fight against a prohibition 
law to come into effect a hundred years hence. 

Of course the Graaff-Reinet proposals were not 
listened to ; one can conceive the solemn indignation 
with which they would be receiv^ed by venerable 
heads in England who hoped to live to see the total 
extinction of the institution of slavery. Mr. Fowell- 
Buxton, that eminent philanthropist and M.P., 
addressing the Anti-Slavery Society, rises into high 
tones of sarcasm over such proposals, which the 
Government, it seems, was toying with ; " a tame 
and dastardly intimation," he says, " that, perhaps, 
at some very distant time, and by some means, ex- 
ceedingly gradual indeed, it might be expedient to 
consider whether it might not be as well to introduce 
something like justice into our dealings with the 
negro " ; and he calls on the Government for " a 
bold and manly avowal that the negroes are men, 
and entitled, as well as the loftiest among us, to a 
full and unqualified participation in every natural 
right and every moral privilege." 

In 1830 fresh orders in council were issued, and 
amongst them a clause requiring that a punishment 
record book should be kept by every slave-proprietor, 
and submitted twice a year, under oath, to the pro- 
tector of slaves in the district. This order produced 



something like a riot in the Stellenbosch district, 
where the slaves were numerous and on isolated 
farms, and a supplementary order was soon after 
issued restricting its operation to the Capetown 
district and the British settlement at Grahamstown. 
Still, Exeter Hall (now become a name in the world) 
and Zion Chapel pressed on undaunted. In 1832 
the hours of slave-labour were limited to nine daily, 
and protectors were given the power of entering 
slave dwellings at any time for the purpose of in- 
spection ; an enactment which caused new com- 
motions and angry protests amongst classes which 
had never hitherto given the Government any trouble. 
It had become an absolute conflict between two 
different standards of civilisation. In 1833 the 
great blow came, when the British Parliament passed 
a bill for the abolition of slavery. The law was to 
take effect in Cape Colony on the ist December, 
1834. There were some all^iating measures. The 
slaves were to continue as apprentices to their former 
owners for four or six years. There was also to be 
money compensation. 

The official historian of South Africa does not at- 
tack the Emancipation Act directly. He is even bold 
enough to say that the Dutch colonists did not ap- 
prove of the slave system " in theory," a statement 
which either means little or is practically dis- 
proved, as Mr. Fitzpatrick remarks in his book, The 


Transvaal from Within, by the usage of the Boers 
after the great trek. But Dr. Theal thinks the British 
Government did wrong in not accepting the colonists' 
proposal for a slow extinction of the system, Graaff- 
Reinet's proposal, for example. Had the question 
been one merely of economics. Dr. Theal's objection 
would have had greater force ; but to the mass of 
Abolitionists in Great Britain, slavery was a gross in- 
justice to human flesh and blood, to the religious 
amongst them it was a crying evil in the sight of 
God ; even Dr. Theal blandly professes that he thinks 
it unjustifiable. Well, when you have once made up 
your mind and publicly admitted that a thing is evil, 
can you possibly halt and delay for years to remove 
it ? No doubt public opinion in England went more 
on what it heard of the atrocities of slavery in the West 
Indies, than on what it knew of it in South Africa ; 
but the general situation was the same, and the point 
of view from which it was regarded by the average 
Briton, standing midway between the extreme Aboli- 
tionists, who were unwilling to admit that the slave- 
owner had any right to compensation, and the slave- 
owners themselves, who demanded full compensation, 
is very clearly put by Lord Macaulay's speech in 
favour of abolition. " He approved," he said, " of the 
principle of emancipation, he approved also of the 
principle of compensation to the slave-owners ; but 
what he could not ap[)rovc of (I condense him here a 

S 2 


little) was the principle of a transition state," i.e., a 
prolongation, in some modified form, of slavery, 
which he represents as virtually making the slave 
pay for what he had a right to without payment, his 
freedom. " The planters and the State," he said, 
" had been accomplices in a crime ; and it would be 
exceedingly hard and unjust to throw the burden of 
retribution on one party." (Mark that one party, that 
represents an English point of view, which Dr. Theal 
does not notice.) " But," continues Macaulay, " it 
would be still more hard and unjust to lay any portion 
of it on the third and injured party." (Speeches, p. 203.) 
In fact, it amounts to what I have already expressed : 
when you once admit a thing to be a downright crime, 
you must stop it immediately. That was the attitude 
of the eminent men who led public opinion on this 
question in England. 

But Dr. Theal is very severe on some defects which 
he thinks existed in the Government's method of 
carrying out its measure. It would not indeed be 
easy to frame an abolition law of this comprehensive 
kind which would give satisfaction to all parties. Dr 
Theal thinks that the measure was somewhat sudden,^ 
and had the effect of disorganising for a time industry 
in some districts where the agriculture was dependent 
on slave-labour. That is very probable, although I 

1 The slave-holders had four years (of the enforced apprentice- 
ship system) to prepare for results. 


could wish that Dr. Theal had given us some statistics 
and references as to the character of the labour in 
these districts. It certainly could not seriously affect 
the farmer of Graaff-Reinet, where the number of 
Hottentots and free coloured servants, as I find from 
the Records, was at least nine or ten times greater 
than that of the slaves. In fact, the vast majority 
of the latter were in Capetown and the adjoining 
districts, and owned by wealthy and well-to-do 

The money compensation also. Dr. Theal com- 
plains, was inadequate, about a million and a quarter 
sterling being allowed by the British Government as 
Cape Colony's share for its 35,000 slaves, valued at 
three millions sterling. But, as we have seen, there 
were different views of what " adequacy " meant on 
this question. I have already quoted Lord Macaulay's, 
according to which the State and the slave-holder had 
each been accomplices in a great crime, and each 
ought, therefore, to share the loss. We must remem- 
ber also that the Abolition party insisted, amongst 
other things, that the years of enforced apprenticeship 
allowed to the masters were to be considered in fixing 
the amount of compensation. 

One cause of loss to the colonists, however, might 
have been avoided. It appears that the British Gov- 
ernment did not send the money to South Africa, but 
required each claim to be presented before Commis- 


sioners in London. " This decision," Dr. Theal says, 
" brought into the country a swarm of petty agents, 
who purchased claims at perhaps half their real value." 
There is much virtue in that " perhaps." Judge 
Cloete, himself a slave-holder and bitter on the 
Abolitionists, says the Discounters in Capetown 
and Grahamstown bought up the claims at i8 to 20 
per cent, discount, and, "he verily believes," at 25 to 
30 per cent, in the country. Neither notices the 
fact that there was (since 1808) a responsible dis- 
counting bank at Capetown. 

In any case the British people did pay ^1,200,000 
of its own to do away with slavery in Cape Colony, 
and if that act was so beneficial to that country as 
Dr. Theal admits it to have been, why is his tone so 
bitter in speaking of the British Government, and his 
narrative overlaid with such phrases as " widows 
and orphans made destitute," " poverty and anxiety 
brought into hundreds of homes," "widespread 
misery," " parents descending into the grave in 
penury," " relatives and friends once wealthy reduced 
to toil for bread," all through the " confiscation " of 
their slaves? A description, in short, which would be 
quite strongly enough coloured for the ruined con- 
dition of the Southern States of America after the 
Civil War, but could hardly be applicable to a country 
where there were only 30,000 marketable slaves — 
men, women, and children over six years old — of 




whom only 5,663 were effective field labourers, 5,325 
labourers of an inferior type, valued at half the others, 
while much the larger number, about 15,000, were 
domestic servants, the rest being tradesmen or em- 
ployed on wharfs, &c.^ And these existed amongst a 
far larger population of whites and free coloured 
servants, so that the general prosperity of the country 
was not even appreciably affected by the change. No 
doubt the Abolition Act bore hard in some of the 
corn-growing districts and in certain cases of aged 
people and widows, whose property may have con- 
sisted mainly of slaves, but under the circumstances 
it is difficult to believe that the suffering was at once 
so widespread and intense as Dr. Theal pictures it. 

Why, too, should the official historian of Cape 
Colony notice only the defects of the Abolition Act, 
without the least recognition of the worthy motive 
(fairly backed up by a million and a quarter sterling) 
which inspired the British people, or of the difficulties 
with which the Government had to contend in carry- 
ing out an Abolition Act, which affected 800,000 
slaves in all the British colonies and cost the nation 
twenty millions sterling, besides the sacrifice of 
great trade and shipping interests and the loss of 
capital at home. It is a rather curious fact that 
an official of the Empire, for such the former archivist 

^ See Parliamentary Return to the House of Lords, 1838, in 
Martin's British Colonies. 


and historiographer of Cape Colony certainly is, 
should insult the British nation by sneering at the 
Abolition Act as " a noble and generous act carried 
out at the expense of the colonists." Surely that 
style of Dr. Theal's is significant of much that has 
been going on in the Colony for the last twenty 

But the most daring case of misrepresentation on 
the part of Dr. Theal is where he seeks to leave his 
readers with an impression that the British Govern- 
ment was mainly responsible for the number of slaves 
in the Colony. Here is how he puts it in his Story of 
the Nations volume : — 

As long as the Dutch East India Company held the colony 
slaves were brought into it, but not in very large numbers, for 
their services were only needed to a limited extent. During the 
first British occupation [i 795-1 803] a great many more were 
imported, as the trade was then profitable, and English energy 
was employed in it. The Batavian Government \Jie >nea7is the 
restored Dutch rule from 1803 to 1806], being opposed to the 
system, allowed very few to be landed, and had it lasted a 
couple of years longer every child born thereafter would have 
been declared free.^ 

The impression which that paragraph conveys to 
the ordinary reader must be that British rule is chiefly 

^ As a matter of fact, twenty years afterwards the English 
Government was still labouring with no great effect to get the 
Dutch and French Governments to make their engagements to 
suppress even the ocean slave trade with their colonies a reality, 
and not a pretence. 


responsible for the number of slaves in Cape Colony. 
The Records show the facts of the case to be as 
follows : 

First, in 1795, when the British forces took 
possession of Cape Colony, the number of slaves 
already there was 16,939. (See census returns in 
Records, 1 793- 1796, p. 297.) 

Second, shipments of slaves during the British 
rule were made under special permission, which was 
difficult to get and generally given only on the press- 
ing request of the Burgher Senate, setting forth the 
necessity of additional labour for agricultural pur- 
poses. The following extracts from a letter of the 
Burgher Senate to General Dundas, dated February 
25, 1799, will show exactly the strict supervision 
under which any trade in slaves was allowed by the 
British Governors. 

.... It has pleased your Excellency to desire of us to inform 
your Excellency if Mozambique slaves are proper for the 
colony, and if in our opinion an importation of 400 slaves 
ought to be allowed. 

.... As we are not fortunate enough to be able to do with- 
out slaves, more especially as agriculture here is infinitely 
more difficult than in any other known country, it is therefore 
indispensably necessary (to prevent agriculture from going to 
decay) that a sufficient number of slaves should annually be 

.... Should it please your Excellency to determine to 
rescue the inhabitants from the lamentable want of slaves . . . 
it would then, in our opinion, be most necessary to open the 


slave trade to the inhabitants of this colony, under restrictions 
that at first no more than looo slaves should annually be 
imported. These circumstances we have already demonstrated 
more than once ... to his Excellency, the Earl of Macartney, 
and most urgently set forth our solicitation . . . but Lord 
Macartney having been pleased in his replies ... to reject 
our reiterated representations and requests in a manner which 
was so grievous for us . . . that we, were deterred from ever 
expressly making again any representation or request to 
Government on the subject. {Records, 1799-1801, p. 372.) 

General Dundas granted permission accordingly to 
Messrs. Hogan and Tennant, Capetown merchants, to 
import these four hundred slaves from Mozambique, 
but annulled their previous and exclusive right of 
importing four hundred slaves annually from the 
West Coast of Africa, and refused generally to permit 
importation from any quarter {^Records, 1 799-1 801, 
p. 378) ; and the trade continued (though there was 
some attempt at illicit importation under Sir George 
Yonge's rule) to be limited by the strictest super- 
vision till February, 1803, when the British Govern- 
ment restored the Cape to the Dutch, under whom 
the trade was carried on in the same way. On the 
reoccupation of the Colony by the British in 1806, 
there was only a year more till the abolition of the 
oceanic trade in slaves by the British Parliament in 
1807. During that period five hundred slaves were 
imported with the sanction of General Baird. 

Further, Dr. Theal himself, in his larger history, 
mentions, in connection with some financial report. 


that the average yearly amount paid for imported 
slaves during the years of British rule up to 1803, as 
about ;^45,ooo. Now the price of a slave, as given by 
Lord Macartney's list of prices in 1798, was from i^8o 
to ^100 ; in 1799 it had risen, as I learn from the 
Burgher Senate's letter quoted above, to i^i20 and 
£160. Of course in the case of Africander slaves it 
was very much higher, often from ;^400 to £600. 
Making all allowances, these figures might give 
an average of four or five hundred slaves annu- 
ally, just what one might infer from the particulars 
given in the Records. From three to four thousand 
slaves then, admitted to meet the increased demand 
for labour caused by commercial growth, represent, 
probably, the British responsibility for a slave popu- 
lation which numbered 17,000 when British rule 
began, and which had reached 39,000 when Eman- 
cipation came in 1834; the increase being partly 
that of half-breeds from a Dutch father and a slave 
mother. It is Olive Schreiner herself who tells us 
that of every four children born to a slave mother 
three were the children of the white man, her master. 
The facts, therefore, do not seem to justify the 
grave impression of British responsibility for slavery 
in South Africa which Dr. Theal's paragraph is calcu- 
lated to give l/ie ordinary reader, I hardly think his 
way of stating the matter is consistent with that very 
high claim which he puts forth in the preface to his 


volume in the Story of the Nations series, to have told 
the truth " regardless of nationalities and parties," and 
to have avoided " anything like favour or prejudice." 

The emancipation of the slaves is not admitted by 
Dr. Theal to have been in itself amongst the causes 
of the " great trek." But while he admits in a brief, 
reluctant sort of manner that the measure was right 
in principle he is fond of enlarging on all the possible 
disadvantages by which it was or might be accom- 
panied. One of these, of course, was the number of 
idle, vagrant blacks whom it might let loose on the 
community, and Dr. Theal has four pages on this 
subject designed to show the wrong-headedness of 
the Home Government in opposing the enactment of 
a law against vagrancy. A draft ordinance of such a 
law had indeed been approved by Sir Benjamin 
D'Urban, the governor, shortly after his arrival. 
Under it commandants, field-cornets, and provisional 
field-cornets had power to arrest persons having no 
apparent means of subsistence and bring them before 
a magistrate or justice of the peace, who could set 
them to forced labour till they accepted employment 
from the farmers. 

Here again. Dr. John Philip, of the London Mis- 
sionary Society, fought the battle of the black man 
with his usual energy and success. He sent a 
memorial to the council at Capetown and threatened 
to appeal to the English nation and Parliament. 


The ijovernor, knowing now something more of the 
facts, and supported by some members of the council, 
and Mr. Van der Riet of Uitenhage, one of the district 
commissioners, refused to sanction the measure and 
referred it to the Home Government, by whom it was 
disallowed. (See Theal, History of South Africa, 
vol. iii. p. 424.) In Dr. Theal's pages the English 
Government certainly appears as careless or ignor- 
ant, Sir Benjamin as a new governor deceived by 
misrepresentations, and Dr. Philip as a fanatical 
missionary ; how he explains the opposition of 
Mr. Van der Riet, who was himself a Dutchman and 
a resident of the border district where vagrancy 
would be most dangerous, I don't know. 

The principle of the vagrancy law, as stated by Dr. 
Theal, sounds very sensible to the ear of the English 
reader of to-day ; but does the English reader realise 
how it would have worked in the frontier provinces 
of Cape Colony at that date ? Even Mr. Boyce, that 
able Wesleyan missionary, who in his book {Notes on 
South Africa) says a good word for the Boers wherever 
he can, reluctantly admits that they could not be 
trusted with the administration of a Vagrancy Act, 
which in their hands would certainly become "an 
engine of oppression " for the coloured race. Dr. 
Theal actually makes it an argument in favour of 
vagrancy laws, that there were such old Dutch laws 
still in existence against white people ; why not, then, 


against black ? And he uses this disingenuous argu- 
ment in another similar case. " Why not?" Let the 
reader consider the following account given by 
Thomas Pringle, the author of African Sketches^ of 
what he saw in the jail for the native races in the 
district of Beaufort, and he will readily understand 
why not : 

This tronk consisted of a single apartment, of about twenty 
feet long by twelve or fourteen broad ; and for the purposes 
of light and ventilation had only one small grated opening, in 
the shape of a loop-hole, at a considerable height in the wall. 
Into this apartment were crowded about thirty human beings, 
of both sexes, of all ages, and of almost every hue except 
white. The whites, or Christen inetischen^ as they call them- 
selves, are seldom imprisoned, except for some flagrant out- 
rage, and then in some place apart from the coloured prisoners ; 
lest the " Christian " thief or murderer should be dishonoured 
by being forced to associate with his brother men of swarthy 
hue ; even though many of the latter, as in the present case, 
should be guiltless of any crime. 

The condition of this jail was dreadful. On the door being 
opened, the clergyman requested me to wait a few minutes 
until a freer ventilation had somewhat purified the noisome 
atmosphere within, for the effluvia, on the first opening of the 
door, were too horrible to be encountered. This I can well 
believe ; for when, after this precaution, we did enter, the odour 
was still more than I could well endure ; and it was only by 
coming frequently to the open door to inhale a renovating 
draught of wholesome air, that I could accomplish such an 
examination of this dismal den as the aspect and condition of 
its inmates urgently claimed from humanity. The denizens of 
this horrible dungeon were runaway slaves — Hottentots who 
had come to the drostdy to complain of their masters, and 
Hottentots who were merely out of place, and had been 


apprehended and sent here till some white man should deign 
to accept of their services, offered to him not by themselves, 
but by colonial law. 

But all castes and grades, the innocent and the guilty, and 
the injured complainant equally with the hardened malefactor, 
were crowded together without distinction into this narrow and 
noisome dungeon.* 

I can very well understand then why Dr. Philip 
and the missionaries opposed the Vagrancy Act of 
1834, why Sir Benjamin, on reflection, did not adhere 
to it, and why the home government, kept very well 
informed by Pringle himself, who was then in England 
and secretary of the Anti-Slavery Society, disallowed 
it. It meant the legal establishment of a distinc- 
tion between white and black under which the latter 
would have felt himself as much as ever at the mercy 
of his master. Instead of beginning a new era of 
even-handed justice for all races, and the adoption, 
as far as possible, of the principle of legal equality, 
it would have recalled the evils Pringle had seen 
in 1822. 

The missionaries and philanthropists had conquered 

all along the line. But for some time the benefits 

of the emancipation measures continued to be hotly 

debated. The ordinary Englishman like Alfred Cole, 

a brisk sporting young gentleman, or Captain Harris, 

^ Dr. Theal apparently thinks he replies sufficiently to such 
accounts by asserting that "the majority of the Hottentots 
rather enjoyed prison life than dreaded it." — See History of 
SoiitJi Africa^ vol. iii. p. 342. 


of the Engineers, the same type with a professional 
tincture of science added, travelHng in South Africa 
in search of shooting and adventure, has generally 
only one opinion. He finds that John April and 
Claas September, his freed Hottentots, being no 
longer under fear of the sjambok, are sometimes 
drunk or careless, occasionally even perverse, and he 
swears at the missionaries generally as " canting and 
designing men," who have spoiled the native by their 
interference "veiled under the cloak of philanthropy."^ 
Dr. Theal also has great delight in recording any 
failure to persevere, any lapse of a convert like poor 
Jan Ishatshu, many years a faithful assistant of the 
Bethelsdorp missionaries, but who in his later days 
fell. Dr. Theal says, into drunken habits ; or of chief 
Pato, the pet of the VVesleyans, who — perhaps not 
unnaturally — at length turned against the aggressive 
white race and led his men against the Colony in the 
war of 1846. It can hardly be expected that one 
generation of training will entirely subdue wild 
instincts, and there is certainly nothing more abnor- 
mal or unchristian in the conduct of Pato than in 
that of President Steyn, who sent his men into Natal 
to raid and plunder British farmers and shopkeepers 
who had neither harmed nor threatened him, neither 
they nor the British Government. 

1 Harris, Expedition into South Africa^ p. 346. A book much 
praised by Theal as " one of the very best accounts ever given." 


Even to-day some of the British officers returning 
from the war, will tell you that unless you use the 
sjambok with the native you will have neither good 
service nor respect from him. It must at least be 
there, in reserve, say others. It may be so, and yet 
be very unadvisable to give that vague discretionary 
power assumed at times by the white man, anything 
of a fixed and legal character under which the white 
man becomes a tyrant and the black one a slave. 
Even a vagrancy law is sure to be made an instru- 
ment of slavery, wherever it is administered by a race 
which has an interest in creating slaves. As Mr. 
Bryce, who has spoken wisely and candidly on this 
subject in his book, Impressions of South Africa, 
says, "The sense of his superior intelligence and 
energy of will produces in the European a sort of 
tyrannous spirit, which will not condescend to argue 
with the native, but overbears him by sheer force; 
and is prone to resort to physical coercion." ^ 

To shoot down in the open field of battle savage 
tribes which have opposed themselves to the opening 
up of territories and routes may be a necessity or 
not, but at least it is a different thing from reducing 
them to servitude, and subjecting them all the days 
of their life to the avarice and passions of a despotic 

With regard to the benefits of freedom to the slaves 
' Chap. xxi. p. 442. 



themselves, Dr. Theal, that friend of emancipation in 
theory, draws a comparison between the negro slave 
of 1834 and "his grandchildren of 1890," which is 
much in favour of the former as " better fed, better 
clothed, &c., more respectable in his conduct and 
habits." {Hist, of South Africa, chap, xxxvi. p. 423.) 
It is an old and well-worn argument for slavery 
this of Dr. Theal's, but it has become highly suspi- 
cious, I think, to an age which has learned something 
of general economic laws, and knows that the only 
real way of raising the general level of conduct and 
morality in any class of men is by improving its 
status and increasing its self-respect, and not by 
lowering both. It is true that there are some super- 
ficial phenomena on the other side. An iron rule 
may crush out some weeds of indolence and petulance 
in a race or class of men ; there may, for example, 
be double or treble the number of idle and vicious 
in a subject race newly set free, but there will certainly 
be more than treble the number of self-respecting and 
well-doing persons, and there will be a great number 
of those who reach a level quite impossible for a race 
which is enslaved. Whatever truth there is in the 
other view may serve as a caution to those who ex- 
pect too much from mere legislative reform, or expect 
it too soon. But you must begin. 


The Question of Expansion — Exit Gens Bosjesmanica~T\\t. 
Difficulties on the Kaffir Frontier — The Kosa- Kaffir Tribes 
— The Commando System. 

The protective legislation for slaves and free 
natives within the Colony culminating in the Eman- 
cipation Act had naturally caused a great deal of 
irritation amongst the farmers generally throughout 
the Colony. 

It is no easy matter even in the most civilised 
nations to get whole classes to sacrifice their interests 
on general considerations of humanity which can 
always at least be debated on the other side. Much 
education, including the moral compulsion which the 
highest minds exercise on the general body of the 
nation, was needed in England, before manufacturers 
grew accustomed to the idea of Factory Acts and 
government inspection. In legislation of this kind, 
every class has been morally coerced for the general 
welfare by the union of other classes whose interests 
were less directly affected. That was just what 

T 2 


happened in Cape Colony regarded as a part of 
the Empire. But as far as much the greater part 
of Cape Colony was concerned the acute stage of 
conflict between the two civilisations, British and 
Boer, ended with the Emancipation Act of 1833 ; 
but the eastern frontier district, the old district of 
Graaff-Reinet, had a problem of its own which was 
not only more difficult for the Government to settle, 
but much more difficult to determine on what prin- 
ciples it ought to be settled. This was the old 
question of the Border policy, and the treatment of 
the Kaffir tribes, which had from the beginning given 
so much trouble to the Government. It was really 
the question of territorial expansion. 

On the northern frontier this question had ceased 
to give trouble. The long conflict between the white 
man and the native race in that quarter had practi- 
cally ended in the disappearance of the Bushmen 
as a race. Wandering bands of them still existed 
scattered over the almost uninhabitable parts of the 
northern Karroo, and in some districts small parties 
of them might be found settled near a Boer's farm, 
helping to tend his flocks, and receiving in return a 
little milk or tobacco, or the offal of the sheep he 
slaughtered. But the formidable race that in Barrow's 
time had held the Boers in check from the Hantam 
to the Sneeuwberg had almost disappeared. 

Dr. Theal has little to say on the subject, and uses 


no large rubrics such as he lavishes on the Circuit 
Court trials of 181 2. The following quiet paragraph, 
some twenty lines of his history, notices the disappear- 
ance of the Bushmen race, and suggests that it was 
the work of the Griquas or Bastard Hottentots who 
had settled at the Orange River. 

Of the different classes of free coloured inhabitants, the Bush- 
men, once so formidable, were now the least important. Before 
the English conquest they had ceased as a race to offer oppo- 
sition to the advance of the Europeans. (?) After the settlement 
of the Griquas north of the Orange, their numbers were very 
rapidly reduced, and they had no longer a place of security 
to which they could retire when colonial commandos were 
searching for them. The Griquas, being partly of Hottentot 
blood, had all the animosity of Hottentots towards the Bush- 
man race. Possessed of horses and firearms, they followed the 
occupation of hunters, and were thus equipped in the best 
manner for destroying Bushmen, to whom they showed no 
quarter. Some of those whom they pursued retreated to the 
Kalahari desert, others fled into the waste region south of the 
lower course of the Orange, but the larger number perished. 
[Larger numdc'r of the Busk/nan race ? or o)ily of those whom, 
&^c. Read carefully, O reader !\ 

During the early years of the century colonial commandos 
were occasionally sent against plundering bands, but after 18 10 
very little blood was shed, and generally all the members of 
these little hordes were made prisoners, when they were ap- 
prenticed to such persons as could make use of them. The 
adults, however, seldom remained long in service, no matter how 
kindly they were treated. {Hist, of South Africa, chap, xxxv., 
P- 337-) 

It is doubtful if even the records of the drostdies 
of Worcester and Graaff-Reinet would throw much 


light on the disappearance of the Bushman race. In 
1824 Mr. Fowell-Buxton moved in the House of 
Commons for a return regarding the condition of 
the Hottentots and Bushmen at the Cape of Good 
Hope. As part of that return Lord Charles Somerset 
forwarded an official list of the commandos sent out 
against Bushmen from 1797 to 1824, from which it 
appeared that during that period 53 commandos had 
been sent out, 184 Bushmen had been killed, 14 had 
been wounded, and 302 taken prisoners. Lord Charles 
adds that the expeditions mostly took place during 
the latter end of the last century. 

Lord Somerset's report will evidently not do much 
to explain the extinction of the Bushmen, but I think 
there must have been official smiles and nods at the 
Secretary's office when that document was sealed up 
and sent for the edification of the British public. 
No doubt the Governor himself did not know the 
half of what went on,^ but he must have suspected 
the list to be an exceedingly mild one. 

What the report really suggests, when compared 
with other testimonies of that period, is the silent, 
unrecorded, remorseless character of the warfare which 
the Boers of the northern frontier had been carrying 
on in these years against the Bushmen. 

The following facts may help the reader to supple- 

1 For a small illustration see Meyer's letter in Barrow, vol. ii. 

p. 54. 


ment the official records of the drostdies and Dr. 
Theal's quiet reserve. 

After the first British occupation of the Cape there 
seems to have been a lull in commando operations 
against the Bushmen, Lord Macartney being in favour 
of a humane policy, and insisting on a milder manner 
of conducting these expeditions. In 1809 this policy 
was also supported, as regards the Bushmen, by 
Colonel Collins, the Commissioner of Inquiry ap- 
pointed by Lord Caledon. " The Bushmen," Colonel 
Collins reported, " often suffer extreme misery and 
seldom rob but to satisfy their wants." But the ten- 
dency of the times was against the Bushmen. The 
stoppage of the oceanic trade in slaves in 1807, the 
legislative protection of the Hottentots and the 
increasing numbers of the colonists, all tended to 
make the demand for cheap labour greater, and to 
send the Boer north in search of new pastures and 
Bushmen children to serve on his farm. 

Lord Charles Somerset was naturally inclined to 
give the Boer a fair chance in this region. Even if 
there should be encroachment on some of the miser- 
able kraals of the Bushmen, he probably thought, like 
Lichtenstein, that there was no great harm in taking 
away land from nomads who had no particular use 
for it. At any rate in 18 17 he permitted the land- 
drosts to apprentice Bushmen children to the Boers 
under certain safeguards, with the view of regulatincr 


and controlling the habits of the Boers with respect 
to such children. He seems also to have discouraged 
the interference of missionaries in that region. In 
1818 he refused the Rev. B. Shaw, a Wesleyan mis- 
sionary, permission to establish a station amongst 
the Bushmen, and in the same year he withdrew the 
mission stations of the London Missionary Society 
already established at Hephzibah and Troverberg (the 
modern Colesberg) on account of the disputes which 
they had with the Boers regarding the possession of 
Bushmen children.^ 

After that the struggle between the Boers and the 
Bushmen went on in the dark, as indeed it had always 
in a great measure done, except for the casual infor- 
mation furnished by an occasional traveller in those 

In 1823 George Thompson was travelling through 
the Sneeuwberg region and reports the following : — 

While at this place (Karel Okom's) I heard that a commando, 
or expedition of armed boors, had been recently out against the 
Bushmen in the mountains, where they had shot thirty of these 
poor creatures. I also learned that above 100 Bushmen had 
been shot last year in the Tarka. {T?-aiic/s, vol. i. p. 74.) 

That was thirteen years after the date when Theal 
assures us blood had almost ceased to be shed. In 

^ This seems to be the " misconduct " for which ])r. Theal 
states, rather vaguely, that Mr. Smith of Troverberg was 
recalled. See Smith's letter in Philip's Researches^ vol. ii. p. 280 ; 
also Moffat's account in Missionary Labours and Scenes, p. 51. 


1824 the same writer then travelHng in the Roggeveld 
region, much farther west, stayed at the house of 
Field-Commandant Nel, whom he describes as a 
" meritorious, benevolent and clear-sighted man " on 
any question except this of Bushmen. 

Nel informed me (he writes) that within the last thirty years 
he had been upon thirty-two commandos against the Bushmen, 
in which great numbers had been shot, and their children carried 
into the colony. On one of these expeditions not less than 200 
Bushmen were massacred 1 . . . . Such has been, and still, to a 
great extent is, the horrible warfare existing between the Chris- 
tians and the natives of the northern frontier, and by which the 
process of extermination is still proceeding against the latter, in 
the same style as in the days of Barrow. {Idem. vol. i. p. 395.) 

That is the testimony of a moderate man, very 
friendly to the Boers, well acquainted with the 
country, and a writer whose authority Theal himself 

These events, it must be remembered, took place 

on a distant frontier, hardly ever visited by the 

stranger, and difficult of access. There was no one 

but the Boers themselves to place them on record. 

Only occasionally a Hottentot scout might tell the 

tale of a foray, or a tame Bushman in the service of 

a farmer might pour the history of his woes, or those 

of his little kraal, into the ears of a traveller or a 

1 For similar testimony see Pringle, Narrative, p. 243 ; 
Philip, Researches, vol. ii. pp. 40, 44, 45, 51 ; Bannister, //z/;«<m<? 
Policy, pp. 226, 228. For the general condition of the Bushmen, 
see Moffat, Missionary Labours .and Scenes, chap. iv. 


missionary. There is only one case, so far as I know, 
where the Bushman may be said to have written a 
fragment of his own history. In 1825 Dr. Phihp and 
a missionary party were travelhng to the mission 
station at Philippolis and had got about a day's 
journey north of Troverberg (modern Colesberg), 
when their Hottentot attendants discovered some 
natives dodging timorously about the rocks in the 
neighbourhood. They turned out to be the Bushman 
chief Uithaalder, and the remnants of his kraal which 
had formerly been under the protection of the mission 
station once existing at Troverberg. They were easily 
induced to approach when they knew the waggon 
was a missionary's, and Dr. Philip had the oppor- 
tunity, therefore, of learning Uithaalder's story from 
his own lips. 

It is characteristic of the strenuous, practical, legal 
mind of the Doctor that he drew up the Bushman's 
story in the form of a deposition, " That deponent 
is a chief," &c. One would have preferred Pringle 
for this business, even at the expense of a little 
Campbell varnish. There can be no doubt, however, 
about its fidelity, which is attested by four witnesses. 
Uithaalder's story then, in protocol form, runs, in the 
parts quoted, as follows : 

2nd. That many years ago, the father of the deponent and his 
people, \\hilst in perfect peace, and not having committed the 
smallest provocation, were suddenly attacked in their kraal by a 


party of boors from the colony. He and many hundreds of his 
people, men, women, and children were killed, and ten waggons, 
loaded with their children, were carried into the colony, and 
placed in perpetual servitude. 

3rd. That since this melancholy occurrence [7'cry imariisiic 
this. Doctor^ and very Unbiishman-like\ many commandos 
have come against my people, in which multitudes of them have 
been shot, and the children carried away ; and this practice was 
continued till our late teacher, the Rev. E. Smith, condescended 
to live amongst us, to preach the Word of God, and to teach us 
to read, and to refrain from doing harm to anybody. 

4th. That while the Rev. E. Smith continued among us, he 
taught us to cultivate gardens, .... showed us how to grow 
potatoes and plough land, and .... we were very happy and 
hoped that our troubles were over. 

6th. That some moons after Mr. Smith's removal, the boors 
came and took possession of our fountains, chased us from the 
lands of Toverberg, and made us go and keep their sheep. 
Whitboy, one of my Bushmen, and his wife, were both shot by 
the boors whilst taking shelter among the rocks, and their 
childj carried into perpetual servitude \duly registered by the 
Boers, no doubt, accordi/tg to Soinersefs law, with the landdrost 
at Graaf-Reitiet, as entrusted to their care by the said IVhitboy.] 

7th. That I, Uithaalder, was sent by the field-cornet. Van 
der Walt, to keep his sheep ; that one night three of his sheep 
were missing and the field-cornet flogged deponent with the 
sjambok, and drove himself and his wife and children from his 
place, and said, " Go now, take that ; you have not now Mr. 
Smith, the missionary, to go to, to complain against me." [The 
three sheep were afterwards found, deponent says.'\ 

loth. That I, Uithaalder, without people, with my wife and 
four young children, was necessitated to live among the moun- 
tains, and to subsist upon roots and locusts.' 

Uithaalder's account is, I judge, a fair outline of 
the Bushman's experience in general. It is quite 
' Philip, Researches, vol. ii. pp. 51-53. 


true, as Pringle himself remarks, that " the Dutch- 
African colonists have not been worse than other 
people would be and have been in similar circum- 
stances." But the fact remains that South Africa 
has been a land of blood and slavery from the be- 
ginning. The skies above the head of the Transvaal 
Boer are of brass. 

Latterly, when the warfare was almost over, 
some of the better class of Boers seem to have had 
compunctious visitings over these tragic events, and 
to have adopted milder measures with the Bushmen. 
Thompson quotes a letter from Mr. Melville of 
Griqua Town, which relates a conversation he had 
with the Field-Commandant, Gert Van der Walt, 
in 1821. 

He told me that both his father and himself had been for 
many years at war with this people. From the time that he 
could use a gun he went upon commandos : but he could now 
see, he owned, that no good was ever done by this course of 
vindictive retaliation. They still continued their depredations 
.... and he was constantly in clanger of losing his cattle and 
of being murdered by them .... he had, for a few years past, 
tried what might be done by cultivating peace with them. . . . 
This plan was to keep a flock of goats to supply the Bushman 
with food in seasons of great want, and occasionally to give 
them other little presents : by which means he not only kept on 
friendly terms with them, but they became very serviceable in 
taking care of his flocks in dry seasons. He said, that on such 
occasions, when there was no pasturage on his own farm, he was 
accustomed to give his cattle entirely into the hands of the chief 
of a tribe who lived near him, and after a certain period they 


never failed to be brought back in so improved a condition that 
he scarcely knew them to be his own.' 

Both Thompson and PhiUp who went through the 
old Bushman country in 1823 and 1825 speak of the 
general disappearance of their kraals. No doubt the 
extinction of the race was partly brought about by 
their being driven from their fountains and the 
more habitable parts of the country to mere desert 
wastes or mountain fastnesses where penury and 
suffering must have put an end to the existence of 
many. In some districts also they were exposed to 
the attacks of Griquas and Kaffirs, and they them- 
selves, by their savage resolution to slaughter their 
children rather than leave them to be captives of the 
Boers, helped in the extermination of their race. 
Some remnants of them seem to have found refuge 
in the then unknown solitudes of the Kalahari desert, 
and wandering couples of them, puny, yellow-faced 
and wizened, and steatopygous as ever, were occa- 
sionally met with by the Canadian soldiers who went 
to the relief of Mafeking. 

The question of the Eastern frontier was a much 
more difficult one to settle. There the colonists were 
confronted by the Kosa-Kaffir tribes, a warlike race, 
well organised under their hereditary chiefs, and 

• See Melville's letter in Thompson, vol. i. p. 404 ; also Nel's 
arrangements with the Bushman chief in his neighbourhood, 
vol. i. p. 394 ; also Pringle's Narrative, p. 238. 


numbering, according to Brownlee's estimate, about 
1 30,000. 

The Kaffir is a term sometimes used to include all 
the Bantu tribes living along the east coast of Africa, 
from the Kosas to the Zulus and Svvazis, though at 
that time it was generally applied by the colonists 
only to the neighbouring tribes of the Kosas and 
Tembus, or Tambookies, as they are styled in the 
old books. The Kaffirs were a very fine specimen of 
a savage race, tall, well-made, muscular figures, every 
motion full of grace, the countenance alert and cheer- 
ful, with features often of a high Asiatic type, and 
seldom marked by the thick protruding lips or 
flattened nose of the negro. The men are trained for 
war, hunting and the care of cattle, while the women 
cultivate the ground, planting the millet, maize, 
pumpkins, &c. The Western Kaffir, unless excited 
by what he considered an outrage, was neither a 
bloodthirsty nor an aggressive neighbour to the white 
man. In the old days the Boers of the Sneeuwberg, 
who were the best class of vee-boer, gave the Kaffirs 
an excellent character in reply to the inquiries of 
Dr. Vanderkemp, then on his way to his first mission 
in Kaffirland,^ and the Amakosa chiefs, at least, even 
when quarrelling among themselves, did not exhibit 
anything of that ferocious temper which distinguished 
the sanguinary rulers of the Zulus. Their chiefs and 
^ Evangelical Magazine^ vol. 8, p. 74. 


councillors were often men of uncommon capacity 
and elevated mind, but as a nation their religious 
instinct took unclean forms of witchcraft and 
orgiastic tribal rites, under cover of which blood was 
often shed. Not unfrequently, after being tutored 
and made converts of by the missionaries, they would 
steal away under some old Dionysiac impulse to the 
nocturnal dance and orgy, and the chief, even when 
he encouraged and protected the missionary, 
generally took care to set the latter's hut at a 
distance from " the great house," which he himself 
inhabited. The variety of features and colour 
amongst them seem to indicate a certain mixture of 
race, perhaps something of the Arab at one end and 
a dash of the equatorial negro at the other. 

They were acute judges of the character of white 
men, and knew the difference at once between a 
Vanderkemp and a Williams, good as both were in 
their way. Some of the missionaries were very plain 
men, of little education, and less able indeed to take 
a philosophical survey of the Kaffir and his ways than 
the Kaffir was of them and theirs, a fact which the 
reader of missionary accounts must occasionally 
allow for. One of these worthy men, who was 
visiting Ndlambe's dwelling, finding no chair to use, 
sat down on a large pumpkin which was lying near, 
meant, no doubt, for Ndlambe's dinner, and found to 
his surprise that his action was " regarded as a great 


breach of good manners " by the whole assembly. 
" For," said one of them, " we eat the ipiizi, and not 
sit upon it." The Kaffir had high notions of his own 
about etiquette, even if he could not control himself 
at the sight of beads and brass buttons. 

But in the eyes of the colonists the most important 
point about the Kaffir was that he was a " riever," as 
the Scots used to say, as inveterate a cattle-lifter as 
any Donald Bean Lean of the Highland hills. How 
much of this was natural propensity and how much 
was a spirit of revenge on the part of tribes like the 
Imidange for the wrongs they had suffered, it is 
impossible now to say. Even the missionaries take 
little or no notice, only Vanderkemp once, of the 
local hates and specific vengeances on the Border. 
At any rate Thompson quotes James Pringle of 
Glen Lynden to the effect that the exposed Scotch 
settlement there found both the Boers and Kaffirs 
very decent neighbours, and had hardly lost a hoof 
from the latter. I am inclined to think that the 
mischief in ordinary times came, in a great measure, 
from a long-drawn series of raids, reprisals and 
counter-reprisals, the true history of which was 
known only to the frontier Boer and the Kaffir them- 
selves. Pringle's pen-portrait of the Kaffir riever is 
probably a fair representation of his history : 

Lo ! where he crouches by the cleugh's dark side, 
Eyeing the farmer's lowing herds afar 


Impatient watching till the Evening Star 
Lead forth the Twilight dim, that he may glide 
Like panther to the prey. With freeborn pride 
He scorns the herdsman, nor regards the scar 
Of recent wound — but burnishes for war 
His assegai and targe of buffalo-hide. 
He is a Robber ? — True ; it is a strife 
Between the black-skinned bandit and the white. 
A Savage ? — Yes ; though loth to aim at life, 
Evil for evil fierce he doth requite. 
A Heathen ? — Teach him, then, thy better creed, 
Christian ! if thou deserv'st that name indeed. 

The system of reprisals which had been adopted 
as a defence against the depredations of the Kaffirs 
was certainly a rude one. When cattle were stolen 
from a farmer, he went out, accompanied 
by the nearest military patrol, on the spoor or 
track of the animals, and after following it to the 
first native kraal where it led, demanded restoration 
or took compensation. Sometimes, the patrol being 
distant, an armed party of Boers did the work for 
themselves. This was quite right according to Kaffir 
ideas, and would not, on ordinary occasions, give rise 
to trouble ; but sometimes, of course, it led to 
disputes, and when, for other reasons, the feelings of 
the Kaffirs had been excited and war was in the 
wind, a refusal to give compensation for stolen cattle 
and a scuffle with the patrol, were usually the opening 
incidents of an outbreak. When the depredations of 
the Kaffirs had been great or numerous the local 



authorities would obtain permission to call out a large 
commando of burghers and make reprisals. It may- 
have been hard to distinguish sometimes, but it seems 
certain that inoffensive kraals were occasionally 
attacked and their inhabitants shot down during such 
expeditions.^ Under such a .system there would 
certainly be abuses, and it was difficult to decide who 
was the original wrong-doer. In earlier times the 
Boer might have had some advantage in this warfare 
when the use of the commando was under less strict 
regulations, and Pringle, who was on the spot, is clear 
that he was still the aggressor in the years 1 820-1 8.25.2 
On the other hand, some years later, when the Kaffirs 
had been thoroughly irritated by the loss of their 
lands, there is the testimony of Mr. Boyce, the 
Wesleyan missionary, Mr. Davies, the Baptist mis- 
sionary, and Mr. Bonatz, the Moravian missionary,^ 
to show that, in the matter of raiding, the Kaffir had 
become the gainer and generally the assailant. 

In these later years the condition of the frontier 
Boers had improved greatly, both in a moral and 
economic sense. The British immigration had made 
the eastern districts populous and civilised. Graaff- 

1 See Pringle, Narrative^ p. 312, and particularly p. 353. 

^ Idem. p. 311. See also the Reports of the Commissioners of 
Inquiry, quoted by Pringle, in Parliamentary Papers for 1827, 
Nos. 282, 300, 371, 444, and No. 584, for 1830. 

3 See Boyce's Notes on South Africa, Appendix, and Miss. 
Reg. January, 1837. 


Reinet village, which, in the days of Barrow, con- 
sisted of a few miserable mud huts, was now a 
flourishing town according to the South African 
standard, containing 300 neatly built houses, many of 
them elegant, says Thompson, with well laid out 
streets, and an excellently constructed canal, mainly 
the work of Landdrost Stockenstrom, a man respected 
and beloved by all classes, says the same authority. 

There were still plenty of wild Jan Bezuidenhouts 
amongst them, and rascals like Erasmus of Bruintjes 
Hoogte and his associates, who plundered travellers 
unscrupulously, as Captain Harris relates.^ But it was 
no longer quite the same country that Barrow had seen 
and described, and there were pious and humane men 
amongst them who looked with favour even on the 
Bethelsdorp mission for Hottentots. The average 
type was probably like Pringle's acquaintances at the 
Kat River, Lucas Van Vuur and the Mullers, a big, 
shrewd, easy-going Boer, of primitive manners, 
roughly honest, but not too scrupulous in his dealings 
with natives, and somewhat indolent except in the 
pursuit of wild game. They had grown opulent, too, 
in many cases, and there was no longer anything in 
the Kaffir kraals to recoup them for the loss of a 
valuable breed of cattle or horses. 

1 Harris, Expcditio7i into South Africa^ p. 18. 

U 2 


Expulsion of Makoma from the Kat River — The Hottentot 
Settlement there — Further Expulsion of Makoma from the 
Tyumie — The Kaffir War of 1834- 1835 — Sir Benjamin 
D'Urban's Policy of Annexation — Lord Glenelg's Policy of 
Withdrawal — Attitude of the Wesleyan Missionaries — The 
Great Trek Begins. 

Besides the question of reprisals and the laws to 
be used in following the spoor, there was also the 
question of a frontier line to be considered. The 
re-occupation of the old Neutral Territory by the 
new settlements of the Boers at the Koonap, and the 
British immigrants in the coast district on the one 
side, and by Makoma at the Kat River, and the 
Gunukwebes and other Kaffirs farther south, had 
brought both sides again into close contact. In the 
south matters went on peaceably enough between the 
British settlers and the Gunukwebes, the latter and 
their chief, Pato, being under the influence of Mr. 
Shaw, the Wesleyan missionary ; but farther north, 
where Makoma's kraals lay opposite the Boer settle- 
ments at the Koonap, there was the usual crop of 


disputes and depredations. There is the usual 
obscurity as to who were the real aggressors. Pringle, 
who lived right on the spot in these years (1820-1825), 
regards the whole affair as a deep-laid combination 
between Lord Charles and the Boers to goad Makoma 
into reprisals and then oust him from the territory 
he occupied, and he supports his view by references 
to Sir Rufane Donkin's pamphlet and the Commis- 
sioners' Reports in the Parliamentary Papers for 1827 
(See Narrative, p. 310). But Pringle and Donkin 
were both bitter opponents of Lord Charles, and not 
very prone to look for a reasonable side in his policy. 
On the other hand Dr. Theal does not even suggest 
that there may be any other side to the matter than 
that of unprovoked Kaffir depredations, and gives 
us a brief general statement on his own authority 
without the least reference to evidence, records or 
other opinions.^ 

The general situation was evidently the old one. 
Lord Charles was doing his best for the white 
colonists, and especially for the Boers, on the broad 
general ground of the superior claims of the civilised 
race and their need of expansion, but he was en- 
deavouring to do it with the minimum of violence 

1 Hist, of South Africa, chap. xxxv. p. 351. Dr. Theal 
takes no notice of these events (raid on Makoma in 1823, 
Massey's commando in 1824, &c.) when treating of Lord 
Somerset's administration, only in his account of Sir Lowry 
Cole, some chapters farther on. 


and bloodshed possible in the circumstances. There 
was very little indeed of the latter ; and his action 
was to some extent justified by the necessity of a 
secure frontier. 

It must be kept in mind, of course, that Makoma 
and the other Kaffir chiefs now held their lands in 
the Ceded Territory on sufferance : but that territory 
had been ceded in order to form a neutral belt of 
land between the two races, and they not unnaturally 
thought they had a good moral right to reoccupy 
their side of it, at least, when the colonists began to 
occupy the other. But it was a poor tenure for the 
native to hold his ground on against the white race. 
In 1829, Makoma had a quarrel with a vagrant band 
of Tembus who had settled near him, and drove 
them over the frontier into the Tarka district. The 
Governor, then Sir Lowry Cole, took this occasion 
of expelling Makoma and his people from the Kat 
River, forcing them to retire to the Tyumie, farther 

And now the Colonial Government carried into 
effect a project which Philip, Pringle and other 
philanthropists had advocated for some years, that 
of planting a settlement of free Hottentots on lands 
of their own, as some compensation to that down- 
trodden and dispossessed race. The land which 
Makoma had vacated at the Kat River was accord- 
ingly granted to a community of Hottentots, a 


number of whom came from the Bethelsdorp and 
TheopoHs stations of the London Missionary Society. 
The settlement ultimately numbered over 5.00O) ^^^ 
turned out very successful,^ although Dr. Theal puts 
some very debatable and conjectural matter against 
its loyalty even into his Index. 

According to Mr. Boyce and the VVesleyan mission- 
aries, who, being mostly stationed in Kaffirland, were 
in the best position to know, it was this expulsion of 
Makoma from the Kat River valley which was the 
real cause of the Kaffir war which broke out in 1834. 
The origin of that war is usually attributed to a 
quarrel over a patrol in quest of stolen cattle, but it 
is quite clear that the Kaffirs did not regard the 
barbarous system of reprisals, even if occasionally 
abused, as a great grievance ; it was quite natural to 
them and in conformity with their own usages. But 
they had grown very sensitive on the subject of the 
occupation of their land, and their constant dread 
was that the Government should yield to the frontier 
Boer's demand for expansion at the expense of his 
heathen neighbour. Pringle in his A/n'can Sketches 
has a poem which represents the feeling of the 
Hottentot settlement at the Kat River in his time, 
that some day the Kosa-Kaffir would make an 
attempt to regain his former territory there. The 

1 For a description of the locations, see Missionary Register^ 
1834, p. 24 and p. 310. 


verses are supposed to be uttered by a Hottentot 
widow, crooning to her baby : 

To Kosa from Luheri high 

Looks down upon our dwelling : 
And shakes his vengeful assegai — 

Unto his clansmen telling 
How he, for us, by grievous wrong, 

Hath lost those fertile valleys ; 
And boasts that now his hand is strong 

To pay the debt of malice : 
But sleep, my child ; a mightier arm 
Shall shield thee (helpless one !) from harm. 

Stephen Kay, the Wesleyan missionary, also de- 
scribes the excitement at Hintsa's kraals east of the 
Kei River, when they heard of the expulsion of 
Makoma. " Amakosinia is dead," they said, " it is 
high time to kill every man and every Hottentot in 
it, Hintza's men, and Gaika's men, and Ndlambe's 
men are all one ! " ^ 

But the fact is that the Wesleyan missionaries felt 
very strongly on the expulsion of Makoma from the 
Kat River and the consequent ruin of their mission 
station there, and did not quite, like Pringle, consider 
it atoned for by the substitution of a Hottentot settle- 
ment with a London Society missionary in charge. 
They resented somewhat also Dr. Philip's parleyings 
with Kaffir chiefs, and his appearance along with 
Read in Kaffirland, which they considered as their 
1 Travels and Researches^ p, 306. 


peculiar sphere of influence. Mr. Boyce, particularly, 
is a little heated on the subject and writes : " This 
interference of Dr. Philip was not warranted by any 
extensive missionary connection with that country." 
The fact is that the authority and influence which 
Philip now possessed had induced the Governor to 
make use of him as an informal intermediary at least 
with the Kaffir chiefs. 

Still for five years after the expulsion of Makoma 
from the Kat River no disturbance took place, and 
during that time the various mission stations in 
Kaffirland and on the frontier, the Moravian brother 
Halter at Shiloh, Shaw and the Wesleyans at Wesley- 
ville and Mount Coke, the London Society men, 
Brownlee and Kayser at the Buffalo River, report 
nothing but prosperity and peaceful prospects. As 
Shaw afterwards explained, though they had fre- 
quently heard threats, they thought it only the idle 
boastings of the young warriors. At any rate the 
fact remains that it was not till a new act of 
aggression had been committed by the Colonial 
Government that the Kosa-Kaffirs took up arms 
against the Colony. 

In 1833 Lieut-Colonel Wade, who was Acting- 
Governor of the Colony for a few months till the 
arrival of Sir Benjamin D'Urban, ordered Makoma 
and his people to retire across the Tyumie. The head 
waters of the Tyumie had been his father Gaika's 


favourite residence, and was specially exempted from 
the cession of territory made by Gaika in 1819. 
Colonel Napier somewhere in h.\s Excnrsiojis in South 
Africa eloquently describes the blue Tyumie hills 
with the rich masses of foliage in the valley and the 
river winding like a silver thread between, a kind of 
scenery which the Kaffir, who is allowed to have an 
eye for that sort of thing, loved to look upon. 

Colonel Wade's act did not pass unchallenged by 
the Radical party at Capetown. Mr. Fairbairn, in 
the South African Advertiser, declaimed indignantly 
against it as a measure designed to satisfy " the 
covetousness of some individuals by new grants of 
land " ; and in the same paper a letter dictated by 
Makoma himself appeared in which the chief made 
a strong protest against the treatment he was receiv- 
ing. I do not propose to guarantee the correctness 
of all his statements, but perhaps it is only fair to 
hear the Kaffir chief's version as well as Dr. Theal's. 

As I and my people have been driven back over the Chumie 
River without being informed why, I should be glad to know 
from the Government what evil we have done ? I was only told 
that we must retire over the Chumie, but for what reason I was 
not informed. Both Stockenstrom and Somerset agreed that I 
and my people should live west of the Chumie, as well as east 
of it, without being disturbed. When shall I and my people 
be able to get rest ? 

When my father was living he reigned over the whole land 
from the Fish River to the Kei ; but since the day he refused to 
help the Boors against the English, he has lost more than the 


one half of his country by them. My father was always the best 
friend of the English Government, although he was a loser 
by them. 

My poor people feel much the loss not only of their grazing 
ground (without which we cannot live), but also of our corn 
land. . . . 

I have lived peaceably with my people west of the Chumie 
River. . . . When any of my people stole from the colonists, I 
have returned what was stolen. I have even returned the cattle 
which the people of other kraals have stolen. Yet both I and 
my brother Tyali have almost no more country for our cattle to 
live in. I am also much dissatisfied with the false charges 
sometimes spoken against me. I do not know why so many 
commandos come into this country and take away our cattle 
and kill our people without sufficient reason.' 

Whether Makoma was quite as immaculate as he 
says, and how far he may have suffered for depreda- 
tions which he could not control, it is not easy to 
decide ; but what is certain is that these events, 
these successive expulsions, particularly the last one, 
were the real causes of the Kaffir war of 1834 — 1835. 
It is unfortunate for the ordinary reader that Dr. Theal 
separates his account of these events entirely from his 
account of that war in Chap, xxxvii. of his history, 
in which the origin of that great outburst of the Kosas 
appears to be a theft of four horses from a Koonap 
farmer and a scuffle with a military patrol. 

In 1828 the old chief Gaika had died, a politic old 

^ See Pringle, Narrative, p. 336. The reader can compare 
Dr. Theal's version of these events, Chap, xxxvi., pp. 

402, 403. 


barbarian, of whom Vanderkemp once " had hopes." 
Stephen Kay, who is a most useful man for the de- 
scription of Kaffir superstitions, and had, in fact, a 
peculiar turn for describing these " dark abomina- 
tions " of the heathen, gives a weird account of the 
last days of Gaika. As he drew near his end, the 
superstitions of his fathers grew strong on him, and 
he rose from his mat and danced wildly before his 
wizards and soothsayers in the hope of scaring away 
the demon of death, and one of his sons under 
similar influences, for the death of a great chief is a 
soul-stirring event amongst the Kaffirs, sacrificed a 
wife of his father's, who was supposed to be using 
evil enchantments against the old king. " So 
precarious," remarks Kay, " is the tenure of life 
where Paganism is predominant." Yet there were 
such things as the execution of the twenty Salem 
witches in godly New England under Cotton Mather. 
Gaika's dusky Kaffir conscience is almost un- 
analysable to the European, but he had evidently 
come to the conclusion that the British Government, 
with all its vacillations and mistakes, was the best 
friend the native races had, and he died recom- 
mending his sons with his last breath " to 
hold fast the word of peace with the English." 
Makoma had perhaps tried to follow his father's 
advice, Pringle and Fairbairn evidently think so, and, 
I must say, his quiet submission to expulsions and 


demands for compensation during these five years 
looks as if it were so ; but he was much irritated by 
his expulsion from the west bank of the Tyumie, 
which every Kaffir considered as beyond question 
Makoma's own country as far at least as the Gaga. 
He was now the most powerful chief on the Border, 
and could hardly submit to such an indignity without 
lowering his reputation in the eyes of his country- 
men. He, therefore, resolved on war, and most of the 
minor chiefs, Tyali, Botumane, Eno, and others, who 
considered they had similar wrongs to avenge, joined 
him. Many also of the men of Hintsa, the paramount 
chief of the Amakosas, and some even of the 
Gunukwebes, though the mass of them with their 
chiefs stood aloof, took part in Makoma's rising. 

The immediate occasion of the war was some 
shooting on the part of a military patrol and the 
seizing of a chief's cattle, but the tribes were now 
ready and the night following signal fires all over the 
country told that the Amakosas were rising. Ten 
days afterwards, on 21st December, 1834, some ten or 
twelve thousand warriors invaded the Colony, burn- 
ing the farm-houses and driving off the cattle as far 
west as Uitenhage. Considering its vast dimensions, 
however, the raid was not so destructive to life as 
might have been expected. Twenty-two farmers, 
Dutch and English, were murdered, but women and 
children were allowed to go untouched, and even 


protected. Of the numerous traders in Kaffirland, 
ten were slain ; but the missionaries all found 
protection amongst various chiefs, or were allowed to 
escape to the Colony. The distant missions amongst 
the Amatembu and Amapondo tribes were un- 
molested.^ But the raid brought much loss and 
misery to the colonists. In Grahamstown alone there 
were nearly 2,000 destitute refugees. 

The issue of the war, of course, was never doubt- 
ful. A strong force took the field, ultimately under 
the command of the Governor himself. Sir Benjamin 
D'Urban. It was a difficult and costly campaign, the 
Kaffirs declining to fight on open ground and retiring 
to strongholds in the bush from which it was not easy 
to dislodge them. But ultimately, after the death of 
Chief Hintsa, who was slain under somewhat doubtful 
circumstances, his son Kreli and, some months later, 
the other chiefs submitted. 

And now for a moment it seemed as if the ever- 
lasting problem of a Border policy was to be solved 
Sir Benjamin announced a new and bold policy of 
annexation. The eastern boundary of the Colony was 
to be extended to the Kei River, and the Kosa tribes 
on this side of it were to be brought under the British 
law, such of them at any rate as would peaceably 
acknowledge British authority ; their chiefs were to 
be controlled by resident agents and were to be kept 
1 See Missionary Register, 1836, p. 66. 


in order by numerous military forts which Sir 
Benjamin built and garrisoned at different points in 
the district. A considerable portion of the new 
territory, consisting of the old land ceded by Gaika 
and a tract between the Buffalo and Nahoon Rivers, 
was to be distributed at once amongst the colonists. 
It was a bold policy, with some difficulties ahead of 
it, but it was a very popular policy with the colonists. 
" Never since the days of Father Tulbagh," says Dr. 
Theal, " had a South African Governor been as 
popular as Sir Benjamin D'Urban." 

But however agreeable the policy of expansion was 
to the frontier farmers, there were men of influence in 
South African affairs who thought it was not a just 
one or likely to have good results, enforced as it must 
necessarily be by armed intimidation, and including, 
as it did, the occupation of lands the Kaffirs had 
long considered as their own. That energetic man, 
Dr. John Philip, threw himself into the cause of the 
Kaffir as he had done into that of the Hottentot, and 
along with Fairbairn, of the Capetown Commercial 
Advertiser, headed a small but influential party who 
opposed Sir Benjamin's policy from this point of view. 
Dr. Philip, with his indomitable energy, took the very 
best course to ensure attention to his views from 
the Home Government. He went over to England 
taking with him two petty chiefs, one of whom, 
Jan Tshatshu, had been educated at the Bethelsdorp 


mission, and had laboured as a missionary assistant 
for many years at his father's kraal near the Buffalo 
River.i The other was a very intelligent Gona 
Hottentot. With these interesting specimens of 
the native he went on a tour through England, 
attracting, of course, crowds of people and exciting 
great enthusiasm. It seems to have been very dif- 
ferent from Kicherer's exhibition of his poor, modest 
half-breed Hottentots, singing hymns and undergoing 
catechism in the doctrines. The Kaffir chief has 
great dignity of bearing and a capacity for appreciat- 
ing the sentiments and ideas of a civilised race. It 
was easy to impress the British public with the in- 
justice of treating such men as intractable savages 
and beyond the pale of law. Tshatshu and Andries 
got evening coats made for them, sat gravely through 
solemn dinners at the houses of presidents and 
patronesses of the Philanthropic Societies and were 
the lions of a season. More serious still, they were 
called upon to give evidence before a committee of 
the House of Commons then considering the question 
of natives in the British colonies. 

I have no doubt Dr. Theal is right in thinking 
that the appearance made by the chiefs had a con- 
siderable effect on the Government, but mainly 
because the spirit of the time and the mind of 
Lord Glenelg, formerly the Hon. Charles Grant, then 

1 His father had refused to join Makoma in the recent war. 


secretary for the colonies and a prominent philan- 
thropist, were already strongly set in favour of a non- 
expansive policy and full recognition of native rights. 
Lord Glenelg therefore decided for a reversal of Sir 
Benjamin D'Urban's policy. He complained to Sir 
Benjamin that the original cause of the Kaffir raid 
had not been made sufficiently clear to him. (No 
clearer, probably, than it stands to this day in Dr. 
Theal's pages.) He spoke of the systematic injustice 
of which the Kaffirs had been the victims, and de- 
clared that a conquest resulting from a war in which, 
as far as he could judge, justice was on the side of 
the conquered, must be renounced. The colonists 
must be recalled to the boundary of the Keiskama and 
Tyumie Rivers, as fixed by Lord Charles Somerset 
in 1819. Treaties were to be made with the Kaffir 
chiefs and they alone were to be applied to for re- 
storation of stolen cattle. Retaliatory raids were to 
cease, and the law of following the spoor was placed 
under the strictest limitations. 

The principles of Christian charity and humanity on 
which Lord Glenelg based his policy, were not incon- 
sistent with considerations of a more political though 
still large and liberal character. The annexation of 
Kaffirland this side the Kei to the Cape Colony at that 
time meant the immediate partition of parts of it 
amongst the colonists, and the prospect, as it seemed 
to Dr. Philip and his party, of further and perhaps 



complete partition. Such a policy was certain to 
make the Kaffir hopeless and desperate, to impoverish 
him and drive him back on the territories already oc- 
cupied by other Kaffir tribes further east, and bring 
about exterminating wars both with the colonists and 
amongst themselves. That meant ruin to those fair 
visions which the evangelical and philanthropic circles 
of that time cherished of the Kaffir, disciplined and 
educated, taking his place amongst the redeemed of 
the nations. 

But while Lord Glenelg's policy was meant to give 
the Kaffir a chance, the prospect of a future, it failed 
to make any provision for the Boer's desire and need 
of expansion. On this point one of the ablest of 
the Wesleyan missionaries, Mr. Boyce, gave a very 
clear exposition of the situation in a pamphlet, Notes 
on South Africa^ which he published in 1839. On the 
question of the Border policy indeed the Wesleyan 
missionaries generally, like those of the Glasgow 
Society, have been represented by Dr. Theal as com- 
plete supporters of Sir Benjamin D' Urban and 
entirely opposed in their opinions to Dr. Philip and 
the missionaries of the London Society. This w^as 
not exactly the case, although it is true that the 
attitude of the Wesleyan missionaries was pecu- 
liar and not very well understood at the time, 
especially by the Societies at home. Their chief 
mission stations lay outside the bounds of the 


colony in Kaffirland, some even amongst the Kaffirs 
living beyond the Kei, and they knew of course 
that these stations would be much more secure 
and prosperous under British jurisdiction than 
when dependent on the precarious grace of a 
savage chief They even found it difficult to retain 
the services of their best converts at their stations, 
as these, as soon as they realised the superiority 
of British justice and the security it gave them, 
were in the habit of crossing into the Colony in order 
to be, as they said, onder de wet, under the law. 
Hence Mr. Boyce, and some at least of the Wesleyan 
missionaries, were in favour of a limited measure of 
annexation, on condition, however, that there should 
be no dispossession of the Kaffirs by the settlement 
of colonists on their territory.^ 

The attitude of the Wesleyan missionaries was 
appreciated by none of the parties at that time. As 
apparently favouring annexation it was an offence to 
the evangelical party and their own friends at home ; 
it led to a misunderstanding with Sir Benjamin 

1 Dr. Theal states roundly {History of South Africa, vol. iv., 
p. 34) that the Wesleyan missionaries " supported the Govern- 
ment and the colonists " in their policy. The whole body of 
them, however, in a formal document, dated 13th May, 1837, 
denied that, and explained that their approbation of Sir Ben- 
jamin D'Urban's policy only applied to the justice of the war he 
had made on the Kaffirs and not to his scheme of annexation. 
See Boyce, Notes on South Africa, Appendix. 

X 2 


D'Urban ; and to the frontier Boer it meant nothing 
practical. It was to clear up this ambiguous position 
that Mr. Boyce wrote his able review of South 
African affairs at this time, in which he pointed out 
clearly the real character of the problem the Govern- 
ment had to deal with. The trekking habits of the 
Boer, he stated, arising " in part from the influence 
of natural causes," made territorial expansion inevit- 
able, and this expansion if conducted by private 
individuals, free from all legal control, was sure to 
prove injurious to the native tribes, to the trekkers 
themselves, and to the Colony. In his opinion, 
therefore, the Government had the alternative either 
of interfering now and preventing evils which must 
arise from this uncontrolled migration into the 
interior, or of interfering eventually under the most 
unfavourable circumstances, after all the mischief 
possible has been effected. His idea was to regulate 
the settlement of the trekking Boers in such a way 
that only the unoccupied lands of the interior (the 
extent and situation of which he is at pains to 
describe) would be taken up without injury to the 
natives. He concluded his review with a powerful 
appeal to the British Government to recognise and 
accept at once the responsibilities which must 
eventually devolve upon it. 

Duties of a complex nature (he writes), differing considerably 
from the ordinary routine of official life, are the result of our 


position on a vast continent, with powerful and barbarous 
nations in our vicinity. We are to them and to their future 
interests, a power mighty for good or for evil, for their conser- 
vation or for their destruction. Were we now merely con- 
templating a schem.e of colonisation in a new country, con- 
scientious and timid men might be expected to shrink from the 
undertaking, the benefits of which were encumbered with so 
tremendous a responsibility. But in South Africa we are 
already committed. We cannot recede. Our power will 
advance, and that within a few years, as far as the tropics. 
It rests in part upon our present measures whether this power 
in its triumphant march, exercise a malign and withering 
influence, or whether it shall dispense in its train the blessings 
of Christianity and civilisation, which are for the healing of the 
nations. To adopt the powerful language of Doctor Philip 
as just as it is eloquent, in reference to this very subject, " An 
able Governor of the Cape might in twelve years influence the 
continent of Africa as far as the tropic : influence it for good, 
make every tribe to know its limits, to be content with its own, 
to respect its neighbours, and to drink with eagerness from the 
fountains of our religion, civil policy and science. The mission- 
aries have already done enough to prove that all this is not 
only possible, but easy." 

Mr. Boyce's magnanimous conception of an 
Imperialist policy in South Africa was too much for 
any British Government of that day,, which had to 
face the formidable criticism of the rising Manchester 
School of politics. It has only been slowly, and driven 
by force of circumstances that the British Govern- 
ment and people have come to understand the respon- 
sibilities they assumed along with that valuable naval 
station at the Cape. The gran rifiuto or withdrawal 
of Lord Glenelg was not to be the last in the history 


of British rule in South Africa. But even if the 
pohcy of Lord Glenelg had been a sound one in 
itself, the time was unpropitious for carrying it into 
effect. The Kaffirs had been guilty of a murderous raid 
on the Colony, and the sudden change from a punitive 
policy to one of withdrawal and concessions was sure 
to be misunderstood by them and regarded as a proof 
of weakness. The very first year of the new policy, 
1837, was distinguished by a decided increase in the 
amount of cattle stolen by Kaffirs from the farmers 
and on account of the stringency of the new laws 
regarding reprisals and the mode of following the 
spoor, a smaller percentage of these could be 
recaptured. The situation was undoubtedly a difficult 
one, requiring some patience on the part of the 
British and Dutch colonists who dwelt near the 
frontier, and perhaps more self-restraint and subdual 
of old Boer and Kaffir habits than could be expected 
all at once, or for many a day yet, on the Border. 
Lord Glenelg's policy of recognising the complete 
independence of the Kaffir tribes and making treaties 
with them, did not turn out very successful even as 
regards the pacification of the Kaffirs themselves, and 
eventually, ten years afterwards, it was abandoned 
under the administration of Sir Harry Smith, who 
advanced the eastern boundary of the Colony to the 
Keiskama and the Tyumie Rivers, but made the 
territory east of that a Kaffir reserve under the 


British crown and the control of a British com- 
missioner, leaving to the chiefs, however, the govern- 
ment of their tribes in all the ordinary affairs of 

Lord Glenelg's policy, then, must be written down 
as unsuccessful, at least as far as its immediate 
purpose was concerned. Nevertheless, however 
much historians like Dr. Theal may sneer at the 
idea, I believe that its evident and undeniable desire 
to do justice to the Kaffir and give him the chance 
of a future must, in the end, have counted for 
something in making British rule of the native states 
a success, and even for something in the eyes of the 
Dutch who remained in Cape Colony. There are 
failures which are as respectable in the history of 
nations as their successes. 

But whatever virtues might have been supposed to 
lie in Glenelg's policy, the frontier Boer was not in a 
mood to wait patiently for its effects. He had no 
sympathy with philanthropic views regarding the 
future of the native races, or with the idea that the 
rights of the Kaffirs to the land they dwelt on ought 
to be respected. He felt himself aggrieved by the 
policy of withdrawal, all the more that the prize he 
had been always coveting seemed at last within his 
grasp. In some cases he had already built his house, 
constructed his dam and planted his vineyard in the 
new territory, when he was recalled by the mandate 


of the British Government. He seems to have 
judged also, and not without reason apparently, that 
the security of stock on the frontier would be rather 
less under the new arrangements than it had been 
before. The announcement of the new policy reached 
South Africa early in 1836. For six years before 
small parties of trekking Boers had been making 
their way into the interior, but it was in 1836 that the 
" great trek " began in earnest. 

One fact speaks for itself More than ninety-eight 
per cent, of the great trek, from 1836 to 1839, came 
from the old district of Graaff-Reinet, which had now, 
however, had three new districts, Uitenhage, Albany 
and Somerset, carved out of it. All the old names of 
the men of Bruintjes Hoogte, Bothas, Krugers, 
Erasmuses, Jouberts, Triechards, are amongst the first 
trekkers. When the example was once set, the pastoral 
Boer's love of expansion and habit of feeling himself 
overcrowded when he could see the smoke of his neigh- 
bour's chimney, would of itself have furnished many 
followers. He was a born trekker 5 every year the long 
line of his waggons, wives and children accompanying 
him,, might be seen on the way to Capetown, which 
was 500 miles from the frontier, or jogging north, in the 
wet season, to the deserts of the Karoo then blossom- 
ing for a month with wild flowers and pasture. To 
trek forth into new lands, even if it had inconveniences, 
was not quite the same thing to him as it would be to 


a band of Eastern American or Canadian farmers 
emigrating in waggons to unexplored regions of the 
North West. Of course there was the danger of the 
Kaffir, the Matabele to the North, and the Zulu on 
the rich pasture-land between the mountain ranges and 
the sea. But generations of warfare had made bush- 
fighting a natural art to the trek-Boer ; and he knew 
that as long as his band kept together, his long range 
elephant gun was a match for a thousand assegais. 
The trek into the interior was a venturesome one for 
the Boer, but it was not, I think, a desperate thing 
in his eyes.^ There was much in it that was quite 
natural to him and part of his ordinary life. 

1 "We find ourselves in a position to confront and defy all 
our enemies " {Moselekatse and ihc rest). Piet Retief, then 
chief of the United Encampments at the Sand River, July 21, 


Natural Causes of the Great Trek— Desire of the Migrating 
Boer to Escape from British Jurisdiction — Stephen Kay's 

When Mr. Boyce, the Wesleyan missionary, writing 
on the spot, and from an intimate knowledge of the 
subject, spoke of the migration of the Boers as " arising 
in part from natural causes," he no doubt meant that 
the Boer's need or desire of expansion could find no 
further scope within the boundaries of the Colony after 
Lord Glenelg's declaration of his policy. Under any 
circumstances perhaps, it would have proved a difficult 
matter for the government to keep up with the growing 
requirements of the Boer in a matter of this kind 
Nothing short of Mr. Boyce's plan of laying out the 
unoccupied interior could have done it, and that was 
much too magnificent a proposal for a British govern- 
ment of that time, with a Manchester School of 
politicians tugging at its skirts. 

In new countries indeed government has usually 
followed rather than preceded the expansion of settle- 


ments, as we see in the history of North America and 
Australia. But in these countries the pioneering 
settler was generally content that the government 
should follow him with its civilisation, with its legisla- 
tion, its security and comforts, with its taxes and obliga- 
tions. A few inveterate backwoodsmen at most might 
grumblingly move further on into the primeval forests 
when the woods about them began to grow thin with 
clearings. But in South Africa the peculiarity of the 
situation was this, that the expanding settlers were 
unwilling that the government should follow them, and 
from the first did what they could to prevent it follow- 
ing them. In other respects the great trek was at 
bottom a perfectly natural occurrence and would have 
taken place, though in a less dramatic form and with 
less protestation, sooner or later, under any govern- 
ment which was not prepared to take the unusual 
course of preceding instead of following the pioneer. 

And now the question arises, what made the 
trekking Boer unwilling that the Government under 
which he had lived and under which the mass of 
his countrymen continued to live, should follow 
him ? 

The first and most evident reason was that the 
Government was felt to be alien in blood and 
speech, though nearly allied in both. The frontier 
Boer knew nothing of the condition of Europe. He 
did not even know, as was afterwards seen in Natal, 


that Holland had ceased to count amongst the Powers, 
and that in consequence the Cape without British 
protection would have been at the mercy of any 
power that had 6,000 soldiers to spare for the purpose 
of securing the most important naval station on the 
route to the East. Even the Transvaal Boer of to-day 
knows too little of the world to realise that until the 
capitalists of the Rand poured wealth into the coffers 
of his government and enabled it to buy war material 
and organise itself on the scale of a great military 
power, the British Government with its ring of colonies 
and sphere of influence was his only effective protec- 
tion against foreign interference and complications- 
Then, as now, the Boer understood nothing of the 
benefits he had received from British protection. This 
difference of blood and speech was certainly one of 
the reasons, and it seems to me was the only 
legitimate reason, for the trek-Boer's anxiety to cut 
himself loose from British rule and erect a state of 
his own in South Africa. 

The second reason was that the pastoral Boer, 
with his rude way of life, disliked any form of civil- 
ised government which called upon the individual to 
pay taxes, accept restrictions, and conform to a 
standard for the general welfare. He thought he 
could get on without it. A semi-military organisa- 
tion for commandos seemed to him all that was 


Everybody is now aware of the necessity of securing 
a Hinterland fronn foreign occupation, but the matter 
was not so clear then, and the Colonial Government 
did nothing beyond protesting. But since that time 
the economic and commercial unity of South Africa 
below the Zambesi has now fully declared itself. The 
close political connection and interaction between all 
its states and communities, white and black, is as 
evident as that between the United States of America, 
and has an indestructible basis in the geographical 
unity which connects the plateaus of the interior with 
the coast lands and ports of Cape Colony and Natal. 
The nationality, besides, into which the Transvaal 
Boer refuses to be incorporated, is no longer that 
of an autocratically governed colony. It is a self- 
governing community, under protection of Britain, it 
is true, but Afrikander in nationality, dual in language, 
and of mixed blood and traditions. His ambitions 
at the very least represent a dangerous element of 
sectionalism and have become a serious menace to 
the peaceful development of that nationality. He 
sees that the natural laws of economic progress are 
against him, and he stops their free play till his 
government becomes, as regards the other elements 
of Afrikander nationality, a disgraceful tryanny. He 
has shown that he would, without hesitation, have 
imposed his rule on the British Colony of Natal. 
It is no longer possible to regard his ambitions as 


sacred when they have become incompatible with the 
rights and safety of others. 

But there was another and less creditable reason for 
the trek-Boer's anxiety to sever his connection with the 
British Government and its civilisation. Generations 
of a half-lawless life as the master of slaves and native 
servants had made him regard himself as the born lord 
and task-master of the coloured races in Africa, and his 
conduct as such had been just what, to use Olive 
Schreiner's comparison, the conduct of slave-holders 
and an absolute aristocracy has ever been, in Rome 
or Chaldaea, and all over the world. From the time 
of General Craig's remonstrance against the examina- 
tion of slaves and natives by torture to the Emancipa- 
tion Act, the British Government, British magistrates 
and British missionaries had been engaged in teaching 
him another point of view, and as regards the greater 
part of the Colony not perhaps without success. But 
the Boer of the frontier, at least, could not reconcile 
himself to the establishment of anything like legal 
equality between him and the native races ; and after 
the British immigration and the establishment of 
the new jury laws in 1827, legal equality between 
white man and black had become a stern reality to 
the Boers. As to the facts let the reader consider 
the following testimony of Stephen Kay, the Wes- 
leyan missionary, as to what he saw with his own 
eyes in the district where he worked. Speaking of 


the establishment of the new jury system in Albany, 
in 1828, he writes : 

Upon this very important improvement in the administration 
of justice .... I cannot but dwell with peculiar delight ; and 
shall here give the particulars of two or three cases which have 
come under my own eye, and which may serve to exhibit the 
enlightened principles now in active operation .... Enough 
has surely been said in proof of the unrighteous conduct of 
colonists in former years towards the defenceless native ; and 
of the inveterate spirit with which he has long had to contend. 
His colour, his habits, and even his place of habitation, have all 
been used as grounds of argument to prove that he belonged 
not to the human family so much as to the more sagacious 
tribes of the quadruped race. To see him, therefore, called in 
evidence against his oppressors, or the latter made to feel the 
utmost rigor of the law for wantonly taking his life, cannot but 
constrain every lover of humanity to rejoice in the change 
already effected. Scenes of this kind are now frequently wit- 
nessed ; and the white of every grade in society is, from the 
bench, explicitly informed that with blood only can he atone for 
the crime of maliciously shedding the blood even of a Bushman. 
This, to many, is quite a new doctrine, and one which makes 
the ignorant nomad and slave-driver look about, like men 
just awake out of sleep. {Researches and Travels in Caffraria, 
page 432.) 

Mr. Kay then gives his cases, which need not, how- 
ever, take up our space here. The passage itself will 
sufficiently illustrate the conflict which was bound to 
arise between two such different standards of civilisa- 
tion as that of the British Government, and that of 
the frontier Boer. 

It was the missionary's great and legitimate 


triumph, but it is almost a pity to see the naiVe 
exultation of the good man, as he relates how Boers 
were condemned under the new penal laws side by- 
side with Kafifirs and Hottentots, for, in the exulting 
account of the missionary, we begin to realise how 
bitterly the rude Boer of the frontier felt his altered 
position. And it was not only in his pride and 
supremacy of race that the Boer suffered. The 
change involved an economic loss to him. To get 
cheap labour had always been his grand object, 
and the only sure way to that end was to make 
labour compulsory, either by means of slavery or by 
vagrancy laws sufficiently stringent to put the native 
under the power of the white man. But the result 
of the Government's legislation, combined with the 
labours and the native settlements of the mission- 
aries, had been to teach the Hottentots the ad- 
vantages of independence, and Hottentot labour in 
consequence was neither so plentiful, nor procurable 
on as easy terms as before. It was not, as Boer 
writers pretend, the memory of Slachter's Nek, or 
the inadequacy of the compensation for the aboli- 
tion of slavery, that was at the bottom of the trek- 
Boer's great anxiety to cut himself loose from 
the jurisdiction of the British Government ; it was 
plainly the determination which that Government 
had shown to deal out equal justice between white 
man and black, and protect the latter against the 


oppression of the former.^ To this day that con- 
tinues to be the fundamental difference between the 
standard of civiHsation estabhshed in South Africa 
by the British Government and that maintained by 
the Transvaal Boer. What are the rights of the 
natives, and by what methods should you deal with 
them ? Can the coloured man be educated and dis- 
ciplined sufficiently to be dealt with on terms of legal 
equality at least, or must he be treated as one whose 
evidence and whose engagements are worth nothing, 
who must be disciplined as the beast of the field is 
disciplined ? On this question the voice of the mis- 
sionaries was clear, and it found its most powerful 
expression in the work of Dr. John Philip, the super- 
intendent of the London Missionary Society. He 
can be educated and disciplined, that able and ener- 
getic advocate of the black man pleaded, and there- 
fore the sooner you begin to treat him as a human 
being whose rights are sacred, the better. It was 
from this point of view that he opposed the free use 
of the reprisal system, the proposal for a Vagrancy 
Act, the policy of annexation. 

But this view brought him, and the British 
Government with him, into irreconcilable conflict 
with the Boer of the frontier, with wild Jan 

^ Let the reader consider Articles 2 and 5 of the proclamation 
issued by Plot Relief, one of the leaders of the Great Trek, from 
this point of view. See Appendix A. 



Bezuidenhout, who, as Dr. Theal represents him, 
was forbidden "by the law of honour" to accept it. 
It is possible that the missionaries of that period 
were too sanguine regarding the complete civilisa- 
tion of the African — I mean as to the time required 
for it. Amongst the Kaffirs and Hottentots they 
found many persons of high intelligence and capable 
of reaching all modern refinements of thought and 
feeling ; and in their enthusiasm they sometimes 
seemed to speak as if they thought it needed only 
a generation or two till education and good treat- 
ment should raise the native races to a level with 
the whites ; till, as Pringle sang, 

" the long-scorned African, 
His Maker's image radiant in his face. 
Among earth's noblest sons shall find his place." 

Their point of view may be illustrated by two state- 
ments which often occur in their writings ; first, that 
the native children were found to be just as intelli- 
gent in the schools as those of the whites ; and, 
second, that the percentage of blackguards was not 
higher among the Kaffirs than amongst some Euro- 
pean nations. 

But we have a long way to go yet, evidently, before 
such comparisons will be in order. The civilisation 
of a race is determined not by the capacities of some 
exceptional individuals, or even many exceptional 
individuals, nor by its capacity, up to a certain point, 


for understanding a theorem, but by its collective 
ability to produce a state representation and establish 
a public opinion of what is best in itself and to 
maintain that as a moral order over all its individuals. 
And that collective power, which must always repre- 
sent a general level, rises but slowly. But that it 
had a chance to rise at all amongst the native races 
of South Africa, was certainly owing to the labours 
of the missionary societies, and, most of all, to those 
of the London Missionary Society with its zealous 
three, Vanderkemp, Read and Philip. 

Y 2 


The Rights of Briton and Boer in South Africa determined by 
their work there — Defects of Dr. Theal's Histories of South 
Africa — Paul Kruger the Representative of the Old Tradi- 
tions of the Frontier Boer. 

This conflict between the civilisation of the Briton 
and that of the trek-Boer has had a long and varied 
history since 1836, and it has not quite ended yet, 
although Paardeberg has been won and the British 
flag flies over Pretoria. There have been mistakes, 
of course, and the question has been perplexed by the 
chronic tendency of the leaders of the Liberal party to 
evade and put aside, and even at times to lay down 
altogether the responsibilities of the Empire. But 
judging from the condition and conduct of the native 
tribes to-day, it is the policy of the British Government 
and that of Dr. John Philip, which history so far has 
justified in South Africa, and not that of the Boer of 
the trek. The policy of the latter and his habits, had 
they been free to develop unmodified by British in- 
fluence, could only have ended in brutalising all the 


races in South Africa, including his own. That is an 
aspect of the question which the future historians of 
South Africa will have to take into account. 

Great Britain's title in South Africa, then, is not so 
defective as some good people are ready to suppose. 
It seems to me that Dr. Theal has missed a great 
opportunity of explaining alike to Briton and Boer 
the different nature of their rights in South Africa — 
rights which are surely capable of adjustment when 
well understood on both sides ; the rights of the 
Boer as the first settler, the hardy pioneer, and foun- 
der of a unique civilisation which may yet come to 
be of value to the world, though at present the only 
outstanding types it has produced are the old Boer 
of the veldt, a hard-grained honest bigot, somewhat 
deeply streaked with touches of savage craft and 
cunning, and the young Boer of the cities, whose 
conceit is at least as remarkable as his hardihood 
and patriotism. 

The rights of the Briton are not less valid. With 
much inferior claims as a settler, he has been the 
moving spirit of progress in South Africa, the mediator 
between its various races and the educator of the 
native ones ; he has been the support of all liberal 
and enlightened ideas, and at great expense of blood 
and treasure to himself has maintained a standard 
of law and justice there, which is on a par with that 
of the most civilised countries of Europe ; it is his 


presence alone which, as far as one can see, has kept 
South African civilisation from developing into a 
tremendous slave-holding aristocracy with social and 
political features as bad as those of the Turkish 

Unfortunately the historiographer of Cape Colony 
and official literary man of the British Empire in that 
part of the world has not comprehended his task or 
has been unfaithful to it. Perhaps the pressure of 
the party with which he has evidently allied himself 
has been too much for him and has spoiled what 
might have been one of the most instructive histories 
of the nineteenth century. For the spirit in which 
Dr. Theal has written his histories has been fatal to 
them. He has been obliged to avoid any thorough 
treatment of the great questions involved in the de- 
velopment of South Africa, the principles of civil 
and religious liberty, the management of the native 
races, the work of the missionary amongst the Kaffir 
tribes, the character and history of the Dutch Re- 
formed Church, and the peculiar indifference with 
which it left the work of educating and disciplining 
the native races in South Africa to Outlander mis- 
sionary societies, chiefly British ones ; the results of 
British influence in Cape Colony, and its present 
condition as compared with the civilisation of the 
Transvaal. He has been obliged to pass over these 
topics in silence or with a casual and fragmentary 


remark, for the discussion of them would have set the 
history of the trek-Boer in its true Hght. His 
history is defective accordingly in philosophical 
analysis and survey. Even his economical sum- 
maries are of little value, partly from being at one 
time inadequate and undigested, and at another so 
evidently partial and polemical. It is a bad sign 
also, that he so rarely adopts the method of concrete 
representation, which gives the reader a chance of 
judging for himself, but prefers the old-fashioned 
method of general statements, with an uncommon 
scarcity of references to documents or of quotations 
from the original materials. It is a history really 
dead at heart, uninspired by any ideas or beliefs, 
for even Dr. Theal is hardly Boer enough to have 
any serious belief in the ideal of the Bezuidenhouts 
and their " law of honour," though he may write on 
occasion as if that piece of savagery were the same 
thing as the patriotism of a Tell, or that of the 
widow of Haarlem. 

One thing, at any rate, is sufficiently clear from 
Dr. Theal's histories, namely, that they could hardly 
have been written by a historiographer of Cape 
Colony, unless something like an organised con- 
spiracy under the protection of the predominant 
political party had existed against the British name 
and British traditions in South Africa. But these 
traditions are in many respects amongst the noblest 


of the British Empire, and are not to be obscured so 
easily as Dr. Theal and Mr. Reitz may fancy. These 
traditions have been shared by many Cape Dutch 
famihes of the best class, who have contributed in 
the past much more to all that is best in the civi- 
lisation of South Africa than the wild race of the 
frontier. But owing to British neglect these traditions 
seem almost to have died out amongst the Cape 
Dutch. The surrender after Majuba Hill was of 
itself enough to kill them. Their only basis now in 
South Africa is the British population there. That 
population is the progressive and enterprising portion 
of South Africa, and could hold its own under any 
ordinary economic and constitutional conditions, but 
it cannot keep its ground against the military 
organisation, the gold and the despotism of the 
Transvaal. There should be no illusions now at any 
rate. The Transvaal has for twenty years been a 
centre from which British traditions and interests 
have been assailed with untiring perseverance and by 
deep-laid and long-maturing schemes, which but for 
the courage of Mr. Chamberlain would probably 
have been successful. You must kill Krugerism or 
abandon the British population of South Africa, 
British farmers, shop-keepers, and miners, to a system 
of Dutch Terrorism. And it is not easy to see any 
other way of extinguishing Krugerism than by taking 
away the independence of the Transvaal. Leave 


that existing, and what can you expect but to have 
the whole comedy acted over again, the Reitz-Theal 
propaganda, the nominal concessions and real evasions 
of franchise rights, the crafty terrorism, the huge and 
scientific military preparations and the calling in of 
Albrechts, Leyds, and a crowd of clever foreigners 
to conspire against you ; followed, of course, by the 
old disputes about the rights of a suzerain to interfere 
and protect itself, with half the Radical leaders work- 
ing hard to make it impossible for you to anticipate 
or prevent anything ; the whole to end in a tragedy, 
as now, or possibly, the next time, in a catastrophe. 

To leave the British colonists of Natal once again 
at the mercy of the Transvaal would be much the 
same thing as if Britain had abandoned the young 
and scattered English communities on the Atlantic 
seaboard of America, the men of Boston, New York, 
and Philadelphia to struggle alone against the bold 
and vast designs of the French governors of Canada 
for making America a French continent.^ Some 
people, with a head for economics, may say that 
Britain had a poor return for settling that matter by 
the conquest of Canada. I cannot think so. The 
presence of a great English-speaking people on the 
American continent, instead of a French or Dutch- 
speaking one, has been one of the latent factors in 
the maintenance and development of the British 

1 See Parkman, A Half Century of Conflict, vol. ii. p. 44. 


Empire, and, in spite of the New Americanism, 
which is not quite so wild a thing as it looks to be, 
is so at this day. 

At any rate the lesson of South African history 
from 1795 to the present time is clear enough. It is 
that nothing is gained by shelving difficulties and 
responsibilities ; they only accumulate with terrible 
interest. It was Emerson, the purest and most 
peaceable of men, who said that the terror and 
repudiation of war may be a form of materialism. 

There are fine ironies in history. The conspiracy 
against its name and honour might have gone on 
unchecked and even unnoticed by the British nation, 
which has great faith in freedom of speech and an 
honest equanimity in the face of hostile criticism, had 
it not been for the arrogance of one man, who was 
rash enough to trample openly, ostentatiously, and 
perhaps quite needlessly for his chief design, on every 
principle of civil liberty and economic progress which 
the British nation has stood for in South Africa, and 
to end by throwing the gauntlet in its face. Paul 
Kruger is a living link between the Boers of to-day 
and the wild Jan Bothas and Bezuidenhouts of the 
past. He is a Boer of the Great Trek, a genuine son 
of the savage soil of Bruintjes Hoogte, with the 
fierce memories of the old Graaff-Reinet frontier 
still living in his heart, fresher probably than the 
things of yesterday. He is a man of another genera- 


tion, more distant from the present than can be 
measured by the mere lapse of time. Behind that 
awful visage live rude and stern conceptions of 
human life inherited from men who knew Rarabe 
and Ndlambe, and whose waggons were the first to 
enter the passes of the Kaffir country. The distinc- 
tions and subtleties of modern civilisation can be 
nothing to such a man ; its watchwords of humanity, 
progress, freedom of speech, the whole creed of 
modern liberalism, with the Christian virtues at the 
head of it, but slight figments covering the moral 
antinomies of a life less natural in his eyes than a 
cattle-lifting raid or the moonlight revels of a Kaffir 
kraal. His public proclamations speak of a triune 
God, but the God he really knows and worships is 
the old Hebrew god of battles, the exterminator of 
the heathen. What is modern civilisation to him, 
with its characteristic agencies and exponents, the 
S.P.C.K., the great joint-stock company, with its 
machines on the Rand, the smart American journalist 
and his interviewing? Nothing but the buzzing of 
wasps about his ears ; nothing but what Joubert, 
writing in sympathetic Bantu idiom to a native chief, 
called " the stink of the English." All that he has 
any use for is comprised in its Creusots and Maxims. 
He is a unique figure for the nineteenth century to 
number amongst its remarkable rulers, a magnificent 
incarnation of the traditions of his race, which with- 


out his personality would hardly have won so much 
consideration, or even notice, from the civilised 
peoples of Europe and America. The old lion 
(with much of the fox in him) of the race of 
Bruintjes Hoogte must be content with having 
secured that place in history for the traditions of 
the trek-Boer. And that is perhaps as much as 
they deserve, for they are not altogether of a kind 
to be a light to the path of civilisation in South 
Africa, or to merit perpetuation in its institutions. 


PIET RETIEF'S proclamation 

In Chapter XI I referred to the much quoted Pro- 
clamation which Piet Retief issued when he led a trekking 
party from Graaff-Reinet in January 1837. Articles 2 
and 5 illustrate particularly the offence which the Govern- 
ment's protective legislation for slaves and native servants 
had given to the Boer. " We complain," Mr. Retief says in 
Article 2, " of the severe losses which we have been forced 
to sustain by the emancipation of our slaves, and the vexatious 
laws which have been e?iacted respecting thetn." Article 5 is 
very cautiously worded, the sagacious Boer knowing very 
well the complications which were sure to arise on the 
native question : " We are resolved that wherever we go, 
we will uphold the just principles of liberty ; but whilst we 
will take care that no one is brought by us into a con- 
dition of slavery, we will establish such regulations as will 
suppress crime and preserve proper relations between fnaster 
and servant^ 

Piet Retiefs proclamation had no claim to authority 
outside of the band of twenty-six families who accompanied 


him, and indeed Jiad no binding authority over them; 
and his ideas about slavery and other things were not 
necessarily those of other trekking parties. Their disagree- 
ments and dissensions were so great indeed that it was hardly 
possible to establish any responsible government amongst 
them. But the proclamation embodies Retiefs ideas of the 
conflict between the Government and the Boers, and is care- 
fully drawn up with a view of leaving the Cape Government 
no grounds for interfering with them, as far as that could 
be effected by the proclamation and its professions. Piet 
Retief, from everything we learn of him, was an honourable 
and courageous man, the highest type of burgher, moderate 
and wise in his ways. But it is impossible for any one who 
has studied the early history of Graaff-Reinet to believe 
that some of the professions in his famous proclamation 
have any very substantial meaning, or are much more 
than the expression of a pious hope which he knew could 
hardly be realised. Consider, for example, the professions 
in Articles 6 & 8 : 

(6) ..." We will not molest any people, nor deprive 
them of the smallest property ; but, if attacked, we shall 
consider ourselves fully justified in defending our persons 
and effects, to the utmost of our ability, against every 

(8) " We purpose, in the course of our journey, and 
on arrival at the country in which we shall permanently 
reside, to make known to the native tribes our intentions, 
and our desire to live in peace and friendly intercourse 
with them." 

But what, as a matter of fact, was Piet Retief proposing to 


do when he published these fine words in the Grahavistown 
Advertiser 1 He was about to invade territories occupied 
by kindred tribes of his hereditary enemy, the Kaffir. And 
the Kaffir of Natal and of the plateau, knew perfectly well 
the character of his visitor, and was better acquainted even 
than we are with the whole history of that bitter warfare 
which the Boer had for years been carrying on against his 
Kosa cousin on the Fish River. When Piet Retief, therefore, 
at the head of a thousand Boer waggons descended through 
the Drakensberg passes into Natal, he must have known, 
just as well as Dingan, the Zulu chief of Natal, knew, what 
kind of a conflict had begun.^ It might commence in 
apparently friendly preliminaries, it might be delayed, as 
Piet Retief tried, at the cost of his life, to delay it ; but 
between these two races it was inevitable and certain to be 
relentless. No doubt Piet Retief would have preferred to 
settle quietly in the new region of the Tugela, and would 
have honestly tried to make his band live " in peace and 
friendly intercourse," as he says in his proclamation, with the 
Zulu Kaffirs. But could he reasonably expect to do so ? 
There was the history of seventy years' conflict on the Fish 
River to show that it was impossible. 

Dingan was cunning enough, though it is evident that 
neither party stood in much doubt as to what the end was 
to be, to inveigle Piet Retief, with sixty-six of his band, un- 
armed into his kraal, and slaughtered them, to the last man. 

1 Such was the forecast of Harris, who visited Moselekatse in 1836, 
Their course, he says of the trekkers, thus far has been marked with 
blood, and must end either in their own destruction or in that of 
thousands cf the native population of South Africa. — Expedition into 
South Africa, p. 367, also p. 353. 


The treachery of the Zulu chief was soon avenged by a 
commando of Boers under Andries Pretorius, who in their 
impregnable laager defeated an army of 12,000 Zulus, slaying 
over three thousand of them, with a loss to themselves of 
three men slightly wounded. That sounds, it is true, 
suspiciously like a Pretoria bulletin during the first half of 
the present war. 



In an introduction to the fifth volume of the Records, 
published in 1899, I notice that Dr. Theal makes some- 
thing like an indirect and grudging admission of the 
benefits of British administration to the trade of Cape 
Colony. After having covered up and disguised the fact as 
much as possible for many years in his various histories, he 
permits himself at length to express it in the following un- 
gracious manner ; the italics are mine : 

To produce an effect there must be a cause. Setting aside the few 
individuals within the official circle, what cause had the South African 
colonists in 1803 for attachment to Great Britain? .... They had 
a larger market for their produce, but it unfortunately happened that 
during a considerable portion of the first English period the seasons 
were so bad that there was iiitle or nothing to sell. A so-called senate, 
composed entirely of burghers, instead of mixed burghers and officials, 
was a gain, but its power was extremely limited. That the reform in 
the method of paying civil servants, relief from the irritating auction 
lax on petty accounts, and the abolition of a few monopolies, such as 
the sale of meat, combined with the better market, surely did not form 
stifficient cause to turn the affections of the people from their own 
mother country to another land where sympathy with them was entirely 
wanting. {Records, 1803 — 1806, p. loi.) 



Perhaps not ; but one may be excused for asking if this is 
the proper manner for a historian of South Africa who 
claims to be impartial to acknowledge the great reforms intro- 
duced into Cape Colony by British rule ? 

The reader will notice Dr. Theal's method of handUng 
very important facts, the whole gamut, indeed, of civil and 
economic reforms, so as to belittle them. They had a 
larger market, but — "during a cofisiderable period'' .... 
" there was little or nothing to sell," &c. They had got a 
new popular body, the burgher senate, to represent their 
views \a very effective body, indeed, in constant co-operation 
ivith the governor, its vieivs always receiving consideration, 
atid generally, as appears from the Records complied with\ 
but — its ofificial power was limited. They had got reforms in 
the Civil Service, removing extensive corruptions which in- 
fected the whole state ; they had got relief from oppressive 
taxation ; they had been freed from the oppression of 
monopolies in their staple trades ; they had got practically 
a free market ; but, what was that to turn the affections of 
a people, &c. ? And in spite of all the reforms he admits in 
this paragraph to have been made, Dr. Theal seems not to 
have the slightest difficulty in stating on the previous page 
of the same work that " in the colony itself the effect of the 
English administration was almost imperceptible." 

A universally corrupt system of levying taxes and paying 
officials banished to make room for a pure one ; just taxation 
substituted for oppressive taxation ; monopolies abolished 
and a freer and larger market afforded a rapid increase in 
trade and revenue ; and the effects of it, Dr. Theal says. 


clearly against the testimony of these Records, " almost 
imperceptible ! " 

It may be prejudice on my part, but it seems to me there 
is a kind of daring duplicity in Dr. Theal's way of stating 
things, which reminds one strongly of the worst side of the 
Boer character. But at any rate a historian who is so 
obviously bent on stating one side only of the case should 
certainly withdraw, at the first opportunity, that solemn 
declaration in his preface to the Story of the Nations volume, 
that he was "guided by the principle that truth should be 
told regardless of nationalities or parties," and " strove 
to the utmost to avoid anything like favour or prejudice." 





Fok . c» tasting rary 

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